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Vested Property Act
Major findings and some suggestions

The process of mass out-migration of the Hindu community has started as a consequence of the Partition of India based on religious ground. Communal riots became major case of concern for the whole nation. Afterwards, the implementation of Enemy Property Act/Vested Property Act has accelerated the process of mass out-migration of Hindu population during mid-1960s and onward.

On the basis of the analysis of Enemy Property Act/VPA, their impact, opinions of the affected and knowledgeable persons as well as the officials (at the Union and Thana levels) the following recommendations are made which should be actively considered in order to develop a civil society and to improve the condition of the religious minorities in this country:

1. Vested Property Act as an encroachment on the law of inheritance, should be abolished. More so, it is the fact that the context under which the "Enemy Property Act" emerged does not pervail from the date of proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh in 1971, and there exists a Friendship Treaty with India, VPA is anti-constitutional.

2. A list containing details (name, address, amount of land and other assets dispossessed by type and year of dispossession, dag, khatian, mouza, current status etc.) about those affected by EPA/VPA should be published by the Government.

3. All activities related to the identification and enlistment of any property as vested should be banned, immediately. In this regard, a declaration in the mass media should be the immediate action of the democratic government.

4. All vested property under the custody of the government should be leased out to real owners or their legal heirs who are permanent residents of Bangladesh till the final settlement of the problem. In this regard preference should be assigned in accordance with the law of inheritance.

5. No property should be taken to the custody of the vested property administration if the owners of the property of their legal inheritors are in possession of that property.

6. All 99 years leasing out of vested properties should be declared null and void and the ownership rights of the original owners or their inheritors should be established if they are the bonafide citizens of Bangladesh.

7. All vested deity property and places of cremation should be unvested and brought under public trust. The leased-out or sold-out properties belonging to this category should be declared void.

8. Law of inheritance should be enforced with adequate provisioning for women inheritance. If the male heirs of the property are absent and the females are permanently residing in Bangladesh the property should be leased out to them until final settlement is made.

9. The Government of Bangladesh should be requested to repeal this sort of black law for the greater interest of better relationship with India; otherwise exodus of Hindu minorities will be a great problem for India.

Introduction of Islam as state religion in Bangladesh in the constitution

Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Unity Council was formed in Bangladesh in May 1988 when a bill was introduced and passed at Parliament with a view to making Islam as state religion of the country. Since Bangladesh was created through liberation struggle with the help of India in the year 1971 with the promise that it would be a secular state. Because of the very existence of Islam as state religion in the Constitution of Bangladesh, the equality cannot be guaranteed in a secular state. Above all, during the liberation war several temples including 500-year-old "Ramna Kali Mandir" and the "Ma Anandamayee Asram" in the capital city at Dhaka were fully damaged by the Pakistani Army, but it is most unfortunate that till to-day after 29 years of the Independence those temples were not reconstructed nor any steps were taken to repair the same for obvious reasons which added a black chapter for the whole nation of Bangladesh. People of minority community have completely lost their faith in the state policy. The communal scenario as occurred in October, 1990 is not an accidental and isolated affair but a systematic and continuous practice of communal state policy, since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. This has been putting tremendous pressure on them to leave the country and the process is very much systematic. The people of minority communities are now prey to serious insecurity and uncertainty. They have been given to believe that former Pakistan and present Bangladesh were created absolutely for the Muslims. The communal state character revealed a deep-rooted political crisis which has already generated many question regarding national unity and solidarity of the country.

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