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Staff Correspondent
Speakers at a roundtable discussion have urged the government to ensure standard living, rights, safety for the minorities of the country as well as equal rights in social, economic and political sectors.
Minorities Rights Forum Bangladesh (MRFB) arranged the roundtable discussion on ‘Parliamentary Elections and Rights of Minorities’ at the National Press Club in the city on Friday.
Leaders of the forum and representatives of different indigenous rights groups participated in the event. Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) of Dhaka University Prof Dr Nasreen Ahmed, president of Oikya NAP Pankaj Bhattacharya, freedom fighter and MRFB trustee Ashalata Baiddya, its joint secretary Banani Biswas and others spoke on the occasion. In her speech, Prof Dr Nasreen Ahmed said, “We are living in such a time where religion is being used as political weapon. No religion teaches us to be discriminative to others.” Pankaj Bhattacharya said violation of minority rights is a national issue where the state remains unconcerned. A total of 8000 incidents of aggression are yet to put on trial whereas 20000 marked criminals responsible for those are roaming freely, he added.
“State has obtained the role of oppressor. Violence against minorities of Nasirnagar was committed under nose of UNO and other government officials, they cannot deny the liabilities of the crime,” said the Oikya NAP chief.
He also said that muscle power still is the decider of nomination from parties which will in future lead to consequences.
Pankaj Bhattacharya questioned the legality of participation of Jamaat-e-Islami in the national election and remarked that state can never be safe for the minorities if such a party exists and ever comes to power.

“Why a pro-liberation war government is giving floor to such a party?” he asked.
Ashalata Baiddya stressed on the importance of forming a ministry of minority saying in absence of it, no minority community will exist in future. Banani Biswas said if minorities of Bangladesh stay united they will surely attain their rights.
The MRFB put forward a set of demands including formation of Minority Commission with judicial power, formation of Minority Ministry, reservation of 15 percent seats for minorities in national parliament, increasing minimum wage of tree plantation workers and more.
In addition they also requested to resolute the complexity regarding enemy property act. MRFB also announced that they would conduct more programmes beforehand the 11th parliamentary election.