Bangladesh was born to be a Bengali nation-State out of Islamic Republic of Pakistan by the sacrifices of Bengali Freedom Fighters and cemented by Indian soldiers’ blood in December 1971.
But we will see the repetition of history and the betrayal of the constitutional governments of Bangladesh .The crux of the political problem was the Hindu-Muslim divide in Bengal. It is even today a congenital defect that crippled both the community, particularly the Hindus in Bangladesh. On the other hand, a few Arabian countries poured in millions of dollars to setting up mosque and madrashas all over Bangladesh which outnumbered the general educational institutions. These Madrashas are highly indoctrinated Islamist terrorist zealots targeting Hindus and other religious minorities and Forceful eviction, destroying temples, burning properties, looting businesses, raping and forceful conversion of young Hindu girls—all are aimed at making Bangladesh a monolithic Islamic country.
In 2008, HumanRightsCongress for Bangladesh Minorities(HRCBM) – an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC of the United Nations and also registered under Bangladesh society Act (Act XXI of 1860) bearing No- S-3573(362) and its unit in Dinajpur have raised this issue ,demonstrated before Deputy Commission’s office lead by unit chief Bholanath Banerjee, he talked with Deputy Commission Dinajpur about the consequence of the grabbing of Hindu holy shrine and heritage site by Islamist group media took focus on it.
The then DC Dinajpur told them, the madrasa would be shifted from Kantaji temple premises to a government khas land soon. In Dinajpur DC comes and goes but no tangible action has not yet been taken. Sadhu, Sant and priest community of World Hindu Federation – Bangladesh Chapter (Dharma Sensed) in a grand rally at Ma Bhabani temple, Bogra in February 2009 revived their original association Sant Mahamandal as initiated by Dr Mahanambrata Brahmacharee (1904-1999), founder of the religious association in Bangladesh , a ashramite monk, a philosopher devoted his life for the service of men and preached morality, humanity, devotion and love, initiated an organization like Sant Mahamandal in 1974 but could not progress. In the session of Ma Bhabani temple , they revived the association as Bangladesh Sant Mahamandal (BSM) framed a memorandum and send it to the Prime Minister’s Office for action against grabbing of Hindu heritage holy land of Kantojiw Temple of Dinajpur and to ensure justice to the Minorities to uphold religious rights of Devuttur Property by promulgating a new Act and help secure fair and equal access to justice. According to the existing laws, properties dedicated to deities can not be declared as enemy property. But in practice, hundreds of such properties were taken over as enemy property. In many cases, properties dedicated to deities were given over to the Super Market, Motor garage, Filling Stations in Dhaka and mosques and madrsas etc.
It would be quite relevant to mention here that the ‘Religious Endowments Act’ was passed in 1863 during the British rule in undivided India which was subsequently repealed. Now it has become necessary to revive this Act in order to keep the property dedicated to deities of the Hindus so that the property can not be grabbed by the influential persons and vested quarters by misusing the provisions of Enemy (Vested) Property Laws. BSM appeals that all ninety-nine-year leases of vested and Debuttar properties must be declared null and void, and the ownership rights of the original owners of temples or their inheritors restored; the judgments of the Supreme Court in the High Court Division “Once a property becomes a property of the Deity, which is immortal. It continues to be a property of the Deity for all time so come”, (51DLR (HC) page no 300) must be upheld by the Government in its word and spirit. All vested temple and Debuttar property and places of cremation must be un-vested and brought under public trust;
It may be mentioned here Bangladesh: Navaratna Temple ( Kantaji Temple) at Dinajpur a heritage building and an important site for Government publicity for Bangladesh heritage: The most ornate among the mediaeval temples of Bangladesh is the one at Kantanagar near Dinajpur town. Built in 1752 under the patronage of Maharaja Pran Nath of Dinajpur, it was originally a Navaratna temple, crowded with four richly ornamental corner towers on two storey’s and a central one over the third storey.
Pinaki Das writes: “The Kanto Jew Mondir is an ancient Temple of Dinajpur District of Bangladesh. The 33 decimal of holy lands beside the temple is already captured by a gang of Muslim land grabbers and a signboard is hanged bearing the name “Santibagh Al-Hera Noorani Talimul Quran Madrasa” on the spot and already establishing there Noorani Talimul Quran Madrasha activities since 2010 to till. The said Madrasa Authority declares that they have bought this land from a person who has taken this land as lease from the Govt of Peoples republic of Bangladesh. On demand they could not produce or present any document in favor of their argument. As this piece of land is a divine Temple property (Devuttur Property) which can’t be either taken or sold or used of lease for use as a personal property according to the on-going laws of the Bangladesh constitution. It is situated at Makrai Village of Upazila Birgonj. The Temple is more than 300 hundred years old founded & built by The Moharajas (Kings) of Dinajpur. This is not only the icon of Bangadeshi Culture but also a World heritage declared by UNESCO. Adjacent The Temple there is a large piece of land measuring 33 decimals which is a divine property (Devuttur Property) for use of The Temple donated by The Moharajas of Dinajpur. This clearly indicates that a gang of people is deliberately doing it to hurt the religious feeling of the Sanatan (Hindu) community. This will ultimately lead towards communal violence and abolish the identity of this holy land along with this above 300 years old Hindu heritage of Kanti Jew Temple. “
The Hindu temples are damaged. Temple sites and other property are unlawfully occupied with new structures erected on them. Young girls are abducted for forcible marriages into Islam. Police authorities dismissively discourage investigation for such cases with communal undertones. Naturally, despite a constitution that guarantees all citizens equal protection of law (Article 27), minorities in Bangladesh do not live with the confidence that their human rights will be respected. The minority population has dropped (through emigration) from 23% in 1954 to 9.5% in 2011. Bangladesh is walking in the path of Pakistan and Afghanistan since 2001. The periodic revivalism of Islamist group in the different years under pleas of elections and democratic movements are instant cause of danger of Hindus particularly in case of safety and security.
The Ramna Kali temple and Shri Ananadamoye Ashram in Dhaka which was destroyed during Bangladesh war where on the night on 28 March 1971 all the 250 Hindu men, women and children, who lived in and around the Ramna Kali Bari in the heart of Dacca, were massacred. The priest of the Temple held the deity and prayed to Goddess Kali and he remained like that until incendiaries of the Pak army ‘cremated’ him alive along with all others. It may recall on 16 December 1971, the combined forces of the Indians and guerrillas overpowered West Pakistan, the Pakistani commander Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrenders to Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, the Commander of the Joint Forces, at the same place where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib had made his historic call for independence ‘The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation, the struggle this time is the struggle for Independence’ on 7 March 1971. More than 94,000 Pakistani soldiers are taken prisoner of war by Indian forces at this Ramna Kali Bari terrace which was then an extension of the grassy racetrack of Dhaka.
It may be recalled that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on14 May 2010 asked the Hindu leaders to provide a list of mandirs across the country and the condition of the properties with the mandirs. She said the government has already approved a project in the Ecnec regarding the development of the Kantajir Mandir in Dinajpur. (But what about Madrasa in the Kantaji Mandir premises?) She said the religious places and structures of the country, including, mandirs, are related to the history of the country and these places are also good spots for developing tourism. “These are related with our pride and history. We have to salvage these,” she said. She said the government will take necessary steps to renovate and reconstruct the main temples, including the Dhakeshwari and Ramna Kali Mandir. (The daily Star, 14 May 2010) .
Pinaki Das, a social activist from Jhalokanthi, Bangladesh (e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org) requested in a e-mail message to all concern for recovery of the holy land of kanto jew temple (devottur property) of Dinajpur from the Santibagh Al-hera Noorani Talimul Quran Madrasa.
The appeal by the Hindu leaders led by senior advocate S R Paul and 30 others , contained in an advertisement published in Sangbad in January 1979, has not yet been conceded, the same demand has been orchestrated over three decades. “Tagore believed that politics should be the art of the noble, rather than of the possible” The message of Rabindranath Tagore once again, “A day will come when unvanquished Man will retrace his path of conquest, despite all barriers to win back his lost human heritage. By unrighteousness man prospers, gains what appears desirable, conquers enemies but perishes at the root”(The Crisis of Civilization)
A politician wants to have a say on every subject, and she or he pretends to know much more than she or he actually does. “If you would know the past you must look upon it with sympathy and with understanding…. then, you look upon past history with the eye of sympathy, and you will see a mighty procession of living men and women and children in every age and every clime.’ this was quote from a letter from Pundit Nehru to his daughter Indira Gandhi’. We admit this view wholeheartedly.
Pakistan government as a matter of policy had been letting loose fanatical and criminal forces to kill the minorities’ loot their properties and rape their women. It was a calculated design of Pakistani rulers and non-Bengali capitalism for achieving their lands and wealth and gradually making East Pakistan an entire Muslim territory besides terrorizing non-communal political forces. This policy of hunting the minority in 1964 and 1971 helped advantage but why it is happened in Bangladesh? Does it mean that Bangladesh is maintaining the” legacy of policy of Minority Hunting in 1990,1992 and 2001?
The policy of hunting the minority helped Pakistan to take advantage up to certain level, afterwards, Pakistan herself was collapsed with sins of genocide and cut unto size. If Bangladesh steps in the same policy of advantage that also of a practically one-way traffic in exchange of population. That would tell the image of Bangladesh abroad.
Just six months before on Tuesday 18th March 2014 ,United Nations Human Rights Council in its 25th Session General debate ( Item 4) titled report“ Persecution of Religious Minorities in Pakistan” Center for Inquiry Representative (CIR) , Raheel Raza says : “Mr. President, Pakistan is one of the most hostile nations for religious minorities in the world and continues to violate many of its citizens’ right to freedom of religion or belief Between 2012 and 2013, more than 700 people were killed and more than1,100 injured because of religion-related violence. Despite Pakistan’s constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, discriminatory laws foster an atmosphere of religious intolerance and erode the social and legal status of members of religious minorities. There are frequent reports of job discrimination, attacks on minority places of worship, kidnappings and forced conversions of non-Muslims.”(www.uscirf.gov).
HRCBM endorses this statement by substituting words “Pakistan’ by the word ‘Bangladesh’ and changing the figure of casualty for the period between 2012 and 2014. ‘Member of the minority community have reasons to be concerned over some recent incidents in which quite a few of their families came under attack. Such a gross violation of rights of any segment of the society will have to be dealt with an iron hand, because that is where the real test of a democratic and pluralistic society lies.’It is very difficult to guess about the inner world of the present-day Bangladesh. The minorities of East Pakistan had not only fought for independence of Bangladesh together with all citizens of other sections of society. Hindus had to pay a great sacrifice for Bangladesh nationhood, but after August 1975, they are cornered, ciphered and uprooted due to property and vote’s bank assaults like erstwhile Pakistan military regimes. Against this background, it is probably not surprising to find that the human rights abuse minorities received under Pakistan’s framework also continues in Bangladesh.
Rabindranath Trivedi is a retired civil servant and presently Secretary General, HRCBM- Bangladesh Chapter, An NGO in special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the United Nations.