Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Enemy Property

The subject of partition of British India opens up many wounds on all sides. As I mentioned elsewhere, my parents who studied in Kolkata in West Bengal in the 1940s themselves were victimized by the process. Those Muslims who opted to move to Pakistan lost millions of acres of land for which they were never compensated by the Indian Government. Those places are now occupied by Hindu Indians. Some of those victims told me about the sad saga of their lost properties, and how even visiting those places had become risky. Those unfortunate Muslim landowners could not even sell their properties for anything, and had to just let those go - because of the system which was forced upon them as soon as they opted for Pakistan.

However, Hindus in Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, had much better luck. Hindu zamindars, most of whom were absentee landlords living in places like Kolkata and collecting revenues during the British colonial period, were handsomely compensated for loss of their income by the Pakistan government after the oppressive zamindary system was revoked. Other Hindu land or property owners were able to sell off their properties before and after they left East Pakistan. Sadly,  as I had documented elsewhere (a matter which has remained uncontested by Hindu activists), many of the greedy Hindu owners had sold their same parcel of land to multiple Muslim buyers, resulting in massive legal cases fought in various courts even to this very date. Many Hindus also gave the power of attorney on properties that they did not own to buyers for a hefty price by falsifying documents or misleading their buyers on ownership. It is really a very sad story as to what greed can do to human beings - those who sold and those who bought without taking the necessary time to verify! Only when the tax collection agency of the Government of Pakistan failed to collect the revenue or tax were such abandoned properties deemed vested properties for lack of ownership or being in default of payment. This provision is nothing new anywhere in the world. Even in the USA, if the property owner fails to pay off taxes on time, after some grace period, the government takes possession of the property and sells off the same to collect money.

Many Bangladeshis are unaware of the so-called Enemey Properties in India. Here is a link that discusses the matter.

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