Advocate Rana Dasgupta, the general secretary of Oikya Parishad, addressed the socio-economic challenges faced by religious-ethnic minorities and tribal communities in Bangladesh. He acknowledged the presence of communalism and religious discrimination that persist in society despite the country’s development. Dasgupta highlighted incidents of attacks on minority establishments, places of worship, and homes, along with ongoing issues such as rapes, abductions, and forced conversions. He expressed concern about the declining population of minority communities over the years due to torture, oppression, discrimination, deprivation, and neglect, resulting in their transformation from a progressive community to a disadvantaged one. The religious-ethnic minority population has decreased from 29.07% in 1947 to 9.1% in 2023. Additionally, the tribal population in the Chittagong Hill Tracts has decreased significantly.
Dasgupta had previously requested the reintroduction of the reading of holy scriptures in all communities during a session of the National Parliament. During his speech, he emphasized the need for the government to fulfill its promises outlined in the election manifesto, including the proper implementation of the Transfer of Property Act. He called for the establishment of a National Commission for Minorities and the formulation of a minority protection act to address the reality faced by minority groups in Bangladesh. Furthermore, he sought special instructions from the Prime Minister to create a separate land commission for tribal groups and ensure the effective implementation of special quotas and facilities for underprivileged ethnic groups, Dalits, and tea plantation workers.
Dasgupta drew attention to the need for streamlined anti-discrimination laws, proposing that the Ministry of Law specify the court structure and punishment for criminals, thereby expediting legal processes. He also commended the Prime Minister’s efforts to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord and emphasized the importance of its successful implementation. In conclusion, Dasgupta reiterated his request for the Prime Minister to fulfill the electoral promises made by the ruling party. The Prime Minister acknowledged the concerns raised by the delegation and emphasized the overall development of the country, including its response to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the delegation handed over relevant documents, including proposed drafts of the Minority Protection Act and the National Minority Commission Act, which the Prime Minister accepted.
Article & image source: https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2023/04/12/oikya-parishad-delegation-meets-pm-hasina-at-ganabhaban