Dhaka, November 20 (Dhaka Tribune): The eminent Bangladeshi economist and researcher, Prof. Abul Barkat, estimates that there will be no Hindus left in Bangladesh in 30 years.
“The rate of exodus over the past 49 years points in that direction,” the Dhaka University don said in his just published book “Political economy of reforming agriculture-land-water bodies in Bangladesh.”
From 1964 to 2013, around 11.3 million had 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,” Prof.Barkat said.
From his 30-year-long research, Barkat found that the exodus mostly took place during military rule 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.
Retired Prof. Ajoy Roy of Dhaka University said governments grabbed the properties of the Hindus when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, describing them as “enemy property”. But the same properties were taken by governments after independence as “vested property”.
According to the book, these two measures made 60% of the Hindus landless.
Incidentally Prof.Roy’s son Avijit Roy, a blogger, was killed by Islamic militants last year.
Indigenous Peoples Fare No Better
Speaking on Prof Barkat’s other book: “Political Economy of Unpeopling of Indigenous People: The case of Bangladesh” published on Saturday, the former National Human Rights Council Chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman said that there is no accurate estimate of the indigenous peoples living in the country.
According to him at least 22 indigenous groups have disappeared.
Prof Mizanur also urged Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma to inform the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) about the 1997 Peace Accord.
Bangladesh Adivasi Forum President Santu Larma said that the implementation of the Peace Accord is not the only solution to the crises in the CHT region.
“We need a people-oriented government. But the reality of state mechanism does not allow this to happen,” he remarked.
Larma, who is also chairman of the CHT Regional Council, claimed that over 50 indigenous groups are on the verge of extinction, but they want to live with dignity with the remaining indigenous groups.
Prof Barkat dedicated the book to his childhood friends who belonged to the “Buno” indigenous group, which cannot be traced now. Prof Ajoy Roy added that he too had met the Bunos in a forest in Faridpur but they are not to be found now.
“I have not heard about them for long … May be they were forced to leave the place by the land grabbers and have gone to India and taken a different name,” he said.
Prof Mizanur said although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken stance in favor of the indigenous peoples, ruling party leaders are involved in heinous crimes against them.
(The features picture at the top is that of Prof. Abu Barkat of Dhaka University)