Vested property claimants drowning in corruption at Land Offices

14 May 2017, 22:37

Online Desk

Dhaka: Bangladeshi prominent economist Professor Abul Barkat has found that upto TK 2270 crore has been spent in bribes by victims fighting to regain their lost property under the Vested Property Act.

"A family has spent Tk 2, 27,000 (2.27 lac) for one case. If fifty percent of the total money is spent for the bribe, the amount will be TK 2270 crore for 200, 000 (2 lac) cases," Prof Barakat said quoting from his own report on the matter.

He was presenting the findings of his research during a seminar titled "Implementation of Legal procedures of the Vested Property Act- 2013 and its outcomes" at the Jatiyo Press Club on Sunday.

Association of Land Reform and Development (ALRD) and eight other organizations under the banner of National Citizens' Coordination Cell to Implement the Vested Property Return Act jointly organized the seminar.

The report indicated that local land offices are the main cause for the delay of the settlement of the cases under the Vested Property Act. The Union Land Officer, Assistant Commissioner (Land) and related offices delay the pre-court process, while lawyers from both sides and judges delay proceedings in court. In the course of the delay, Land Officers manage to snare a huge amount of money as bribes.

General Secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity council Rana Dasgupta said "Bangladesh government declared 'Vision 2021' by which time the country would be a digital nation. Where will religious minorities stand then? In 2021, Bangladesh will be 50 years old. With the growth of the country, will minorities also grow? If the trend of last 48 years continues and the Enemy Property Act continues, minorities will have no hope. How does the Enemy Property Act fit in with a Digital Bangladesh?"

Social activist Advocate Sultana Kamal while presiding over the seminar emphasised the worth of secularism: "Our government is branding Bangladesh as a land of development presenting its infrastructure such as roads, culverts, bridges, etc. But these are not matters for branding. Every country tries to develop these things. But government is reluctant to brand Bangladesh as a secular country."

Expressing his sorrow, economist M M Akash said that their recommendations are not accepted. And whatever happens, it is not implemented properly for the state and political interests.

Chairperson of ALRD Khushi Kabir, General Secretary of Vested Property Act Protection Movement Advocate Subrata Choudhury, Advisor of Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad Kajol Devnath were, among others, present at the seminar.

Director General of ALRD Shasul Huda delivered the inaugural speech while an open discussion was held with the participation of the victim family.