Secularism, equity must for democracy

Dhaka, Oct 19 (UNB)

Experts at an international seminar here on Friday said giving equal opportunities and ensuring the security of
the minority communities are important for institutionalising democracy in South Asia, including Bangladesh.

They also called on the all conscious citizens of the subcontinent to raise their voice against communality fostered by vested interest groups.

Unravelling the Pain
Although the democratic system has been adorned by most of the South Asian countries, the fundamental mandate of ensuring equal rights to the people of the respective countries is yet to be achieved due to the manufacturing of communality by a few at the top of the socio-economic and political hierarchies, they said.

The experts were addressing the seminar, titled ‘Democracy and Minority’, organised by Bangladesh-India Friendship Society (BIFS) at a city hotel.

In his keynote presentation, Dr Abul Barkat said, “In order to expedite the holistic process of human development, it’ll be
appropriate to assign high priority to those people who are excluded, whose rights have been denied and disrespected in the past.”

He said: “Urgent interventions are needed to bring back minorities in the mainstream development. Here – secular enlightened mind set and true democracy will matter more than anything else.”

Speaking on the occasion as a special guest, eminent Indian actress and rights activist Shabana Azmi observed that communalist moves in the subcontinent are mainly instigated by parties eager to use people on both sides as political vote banks.

“Communalism doesn’t happen spontaneously, but has been an act of pre-planned campaign of hatred,” she observed.

Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed, in his speech as the chief guest, said: “Democracy won’t the institutional shape unless all
individuals are ensured equal rights.”
The AL government is working on ensuring the rights of the minorities and it has already proved its seriousness by enacting the Vested Property Repeal (amendment) Act 2011 to return the property of the people of the country’s Hindu community.

Bangladesh University Grants Commission chairman Prof AK Azad Chowdhury, historian Prof Dr Muntasir Uddin Khan Mamun, BIFS general secretary Subir Kushari and Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum, India) functionary Kiriti Ray also spoke at the seminar.

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