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Minorities laud new property act

New law allows many dispossessed to reclaim confiscated land

Sumon Corraya, Dhaka

November 30, 2011

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Minority leaders were claiming victory today after the passing of a bill that will enable people to reclaim property confiscated by the state under an old controversial law. “The new legislation enables us to regain our property. We thank the government,” said Rana Dasgupta, 64, a lawyer and secretary-general of the Bangladesh United Council for Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, an inter-faith forum. Rights groups had been battling for years against the Vested Property Act which allowed the government to seize lands from individuals who it deemed an enemy of the state. The law, initially known as the Enemy Property Act was introduced before independence by Pakistan and enacted after a brief war with India in the 1960s. Under the law the state confiscated property from millions of people who fled to India during the war and was used as a discriminatory tool against minorities, according to rights groups. However, the Vested Properties Return (Amendment) Bill 2011 passed in parliament on Monday will go a long way to redressing the injustices caused by the old law, Dasgupta said. However, he regretted a clause was excluded from the amendments which allow civil servants or bureaucrats to sell or lease properties to a third party. “The new is good news for those whose properties were taken away. If implemented well it will ensure justice and land problems with minorities will decline to a great extent,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, Nonetheless, experts say returning all vested properties will prove impossible because some were seized over four decades ago. Most of the properties were taken by Muslims with close connection to political parties, they said. Related Reports: Minorities voice concern for their rights Bangladeshi minorities demand law changes MINORITIES´ COUNCIL DEMANDS REPEAL OF PROPERTY ACT    
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