Bangladesh Jatiyo Hindu Mohajote, an alliance of the Hindu community in Bangladesh, protested a recent statement made by a so-called civil society organisation that defended the ‘evil agenda’ to change the Hindu Law.
The people who made the statement defending the activities of The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam and his wife Shaheen Anam are none but their beneficiaries, it alleged in a press statement.
Recently, the Hindu Mohajote protested a move taken by Mahfuz Anam and his wife Shaheen Anam to amend Hindu Law, hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and affecting communal harmony.
Some vested quarters and opportunists under the banner of Hindu Ain Pronoyone Nagorik Uddyog (Citizens' Initiative on enacting Hindu law) categorically supported the evil agenda taken by the NGO. This organisation made a statement against Bangladesh Hindu Mohajote, which is opposing any move to amend the Hindu law, the Hindu Mohajote said. In the statement, Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, a lawyer and secretary-general of Bangladesh Jatiyo Hindu Mohajote, said “Attention of the Jatiyo Hindu Mohajote has been drawn to a news item published in the Daily Star on August 21, titled “Nagorik Uddok protests wrong information submitted by the Hindu Mohajote.”
On August 23, the Daily Star published a news headlined “Hindu inheritance law: Citizens’ coalition denounces propaganda”. The news item noted that the Hindu Ain Pronoyone Nagorik Uddyog coalition has issued a statement protesting the propaganda against a number of individuals and organisations that are not involved in the formulation of the Hindu inheritance law.
It is mentioned in the news that Hindu Mohajote is spreading rumours against the individuals and organisations not involved in changing Hindu law for equal inheritance of paternal properties.
The news also claimed that Shaheen Anam is executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation but she is not involved in making the law. It also ruled out any relation between Mahfuz Anam and the coalition.
The NGO held a webinar to submit the draft law to Law Minister Anisul Huq. Manusher Jonno Foundation director Rina Roy discussed the objectives of the law and programme coordinator Arpita Das presented the law. Shaheen Anam presided over the event.
Speaking on the occasion, they said Manusher Jonno Foundation has been assisting in the drafting of various laws relating to the Hindu community since 2007.
The Hindu Ain Pronoyone Nagorik Uddyok was formed comprising Manusher Jonno Foundation and some human rights watchdogs and women rights organisations in 2007. Manusher Jonno Foundation has been coordinating the coalition since its inception. Shaheen Anam was the chief discussant at the roundtable held on March 30.
She told clearly that her Foundation and some other organizations are working to draft the law and build public consensus in this regard, the Hindu Mohajote alleged.
“We discussed the issue with all sections of people in the society. We collected signatures of one lakh women for making complete Hindu marriage law. Unfortunately, we are yet to make it a law,” Shahen Anam was quoted as saying.
On April 6, the Daily Prothom Alo published the news on the roundtable organized by Manusher Jonno Foundation.
It is evident from the websites of Manusher Jonno Foundation and Nagorik Uddyok that Shaheen Anam has been leading, coordinating and financing the draft of Hindu law in 2007, the Hindu Mohajote claimed.
Hindu Mohajote questioned, “How Shaheen Anam avoid the responsibility of drafting the law?”
Role of Mahfuz Anam
Mahfuz Anam is the editor of The Daily Star. He cannot avoid the responsibility of the reports and articles published in his newspaper, the Hindu Mohajote said.
On April 6, the Daily Star published a story written by Manusher Jonno Foundation’s coordinator Shahana Huda Ranjana, depicting a life of a Hindu woman criticizing the religious law and inciting religious sentiments.
In the write-up, the writer said she was inspired to write such story as Manusher Jonno Foundation is working on the issue for long. The characters- Benuka Chowdhury and Shahibala Devi are fictitious. The particulars of the duo were not mentioned in the story. The Daily Star has published the story. It cannot avoid the responsibility of fomenting religious hatred, said Bangladesh Hindu Mohajote.
It said although the story criticized Hindu law, the daily published it. Being editor, Mahfuz Anam cannot avoid the responsibility for publishing the content and fomenting religious hatred.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, one of the statement issuers of Nagorik Uddyok, is married to a Christian woman. He is not a practising Hindu. He is an economist, not a religious leader.
Another statement issuer, Aroma Dutta is a NGO worker who married a Muslim. Firoz Chowdhury, Abdul Kaiyum and Shaheen Anam are not Hindu community members.
The protest made by Nagorik Uddyok, Mahfuz Anam and Shaheen Anam does not reflect the view of the Hindu community and leaders, Bangladesh Hindu Mohajote reaffirmed.
The leaders of Hindu Mohajote said they want Mahfuz Anam, Shaheen Anam and Angela Gomes to apologize for playing with the Hindu religion and spreading religious hatred.
It also demanded the government’s action to ban NGOs like Manusher Jonno Foundation and Banchte Shekha. The Hindu Mohajote also decided to collect mass signatures in this regard.
It has also moved to file cases against Mahfuz Anam, his wife and others.
Referring to an article written and published by Mahfuz Anam on August 24, the Hindu Mohajote asked him for refraining from such activities. The Hindu Mohajote also threatened to hold procession bearing brooms and shoes in protest against their ‘evil agenda’ to change the Hindu Law.