Rights activists and minority leaders yesterday urged the government to take necessary actions against the persons with malign intention trying to grab lands of religious minorities in Parbatipur under Dinajpur, and ensure safety and security of all religious minorities.
They said these at a press conference organised at the capital's Jatiya Press Club to unveil an investigation report on land grabbing and attack by local Awami League leader Emdadul Islam Chowdhury.
Members of Arpita Sampatti Pottarpon Ain Bastobayon Jaitya Nagorik Somonnoy cell visited Parbatipur in January and interviewed all parties involved.
According to the cell's report, 55 families, including 40 Hindu families, have been living at 25.78 acres of lands for generations. But after the independence in 1971, the lands were listed as vested property and they used to pay taxes.
In 1984, a joint district judge of Dinajpur declared two women proprietors of a portion of the lands, and ordered that listing of that portion of land as vested property would be illegal.
Following the declaration, the government filed a review petition challenging it, but the Supreme Court and appellate division scrapped the petition in 2002.
Since then, they had been using the lands until 2004 when the lands were listed as khas lands, the report said.
But Emdadul was not declared proprietor of the lands, speakers said.
"Though Emdadul is claiming that he bought the lands from one Hasina Begum, he could not show any document in support of his claim. There are no such records in the land office either," said Advocate Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad.
Victim Ananta Kumar Roy said they filed a case with a joint district judge court in 2012 claiming their ownership of the lands, which was now under trial.
“If the court gave verdict against us, then we will leave it,” he said, adding that Emdadul and his men still kept grabbing the lands and attacking them (victims) despite a court injunction barring Emdadul from using the lands until the case was disposed of.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Executive Director Sultana Kamal said attacking minorities and depriving them of their rights was never expected in an independent country.
The constituency's lawmaker Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman should stand by these threatened people, Sultana added.
Talking to The Daily Star over telephone, Emdadul said he was the rightful owner of the lands and possessed all necessary documents.
Asked why he did not file an "eviction case" against them if his claims were true, he said, "The court gave verdict in my favour. So why do I need to file a case again?"
He also denied all allegations of attacks on them.
Among others, President of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad Kazal Debnath, General Secretary of Arpita Sampotti Ain Protirodh Andolon Advocate Subrata Chowdhury and Executive Director of Association for Land Reform and Development Shamsul Huda were present at the press conference.