South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

THE attack on a Manipuri ethnic minority family in Sylhet on Sunday by the district secretary of the Juba League, also the local ward councillor, along with his accomplices allegedly belonging to the local Chhatra League and Juba League, student front and youth front of the ruling Awami League respectively, in a bid to grab the homestead of that family, as mentioned in a report of New Age on Tuesday, tends to highlight not only the attackers predilection for land grabbing but also their chauvinistic attitude towards the ethnic minorities at large. According to the report, the attackers swooped on the family members and relatives who gathered in that house on the occasion of a wedding, and snatched valuables, including gold ornaments bought for the bride, injuring at least five.

Atrocities and excesses by leaders and activists of the ruling party in general and of its student and youth fronts in particular have become a regular phenomenon these days. They have been engaged in crimes like extortion, land grabbing, rent seeking, abduction, etc since the Awami League-Jatiya Party government assumed power in January 2009. Thus, the attack in question with a view to grabbing land may not be anything new. However, what needs to be pointed out that, according to the son of the family quoted in the report, a case regarding the land is pending with the court and, more importantly, in response to an appeal on the family’s behalf, the prime minister ordered the home ministry to take necessary measures to protect the land from grabbers. Yet, the grabbers dared to unleash the attack to grab the land. Needless to say, it clearly indicates the government’s apathy, if not downright antipathy, to the interests of the ethnic communities of the country; and, no denying, such apathy or antipathy, however one puts it, seems to boil down to the nationalistic chauvinism of the majority Bengalis.

It may be pertinent to note that the reality of Bangladesh being a land of diverse communities has hardly been reflected in the policies pursued by the ruling quarters, irrespective of their partisan affiliation and ideological inclination, thus far; whereas, without ensuring a strong bond among its peoples, of all religions and ethnicities, Moreover, the parameters for an inclusive state and pluralism in society, which are key to a democratic polity, have by and large been defined in terms of the interests of the ethnic majority community in Bangladesh—the Bengalis, that is.

Be that as it may, the government needs to take immediate actions against the attackers, along with ensuring necessary security to the family and the piece of land in question. It also needs to realise that it should be more serious and sincere in addressing the woes and miseries of the minority communities in particular.