Eminent economist and researcher Dr Abul Barkat says that there will be no Hindus left in the country three decades from now.
“The rate of exodus over the past 49 years points to that direction,” the Dhaka University teacher says in his book Political economy of reforming agriculture-land-water bodies in Bangladesh published yesterday.
Barakat was addressing the book launching ceremony at Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University.
From 1964 to 2013, around 11.3 million Hindus left Bangladesh due to religious persecution and discrimination, he said. It means on an average 632 Hindus left the country each day and 230,612 annually.
From his 30-year-long research, Barkat found that the exodus mostly took place during military governments after independence.
Before the Liberation War, the daily rate of migration was 705 while it was 512 during 1971-1981 and 438 during 1981-1991. The number increased to 767 persons each day during 1991-2001 while around 774 persons left the country during 2001-2012, the book says.
DU teacher Prof Ajoy Roy said the government grabbed the properties of the Hindus during the Pakistan regime describing them as enemy property and the same properties were taken by the government after independence as vested property.
According to the book, these two measures made 60% of the Hindus landless.
Retired Justice Kazi Ebadul Haque said the minorities and the poor were deprived of their land rights. For example, when a shoal rises in a river the local leaders register them in the name of poor people, but the same leaders file a case and take the land under the possessions showing the court’s stay order.
The deprived people remain deprived, he said, adding that the land management system should be reformed.
Dhaka University teacher Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed said that the government has to ensure that the indigenous people would not be affected or harmed. “The government must ensure that the people do not think about leaving the country for once.”
No accurate estimation of indigenous people
Discussing on a separate book of Prof Barkat Political Economy of Unpeopling of Indigenous People: The case of Bangladesh published yesterday, former NHRC chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman said that there was no accurate estimation of the indigenous peoples living in the country.
He mentioned that at least 22 indigenous groups had disappeared from the country.
Prof Mizanur also urged Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma to inform the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts about the 1997 Peace Accord.
In his speech, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum President Santu Larma agreed that the implementation of the Peace Accord was not the only solution to the crises in the CHT region.
He added that the current stance of the ruling party would not solve the disputes through different reform programmes, rather they want to hinder the process. “We need a people-oriented government. But the reality of state mechanism does not allow this to happen.”
Santu Larma, also chairman of the CHT Regional Council, claimed that over 50 indigenous groups were on the verge of extinction, but they want to live with dignity with the remaining indigenous groups.
Prof Ajoy Roy observed that in his book Prof Barkat had used the word adivasi even the government does not recognise them as indigenous peoples.
Prof Barkat dedicated the book to his childhood friends who belonged to “Buno” indigenous group, but now remain traceless, Prof Ajoy Roy said, adding that he too had met the group in a small forest in Faridpur.
“I have not heard about them since long … May be they were forced to leave the place by the land grabbers and have gone to India and took a different name.”
Prof Mizanur said although the prime minister had taken stance in favour of the indigenous peoples, the ruling party leaders were involved in heinous activities against them.
Addressing the programme as chief guest, Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon urged rights activists to stand by the side of the indigenous peoples.