Govt sees ‘ulterior motive’ in Preo Bala’s concoctions

Staff Correspondent | Published: 15:33, Jul 20,2019 | Updated: 01:27, Jul 21,2019


Bangladesh foreign ministry formally on Saturday protested against the allegation made by Bangladeshi NGO worker Preo Bala Biswas to the United State president Donald Trump over ‘disappearance’ and rights abuse of the religious minority in Bangladesh.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia, meanwhile, also said Preo Bala has made the allegations with an aim to damage the sovereignty of the country.

He also said the home and foreign ministries have already taken initiatives to frame charges against her  through a legal framework.

Preo Bala Biswas alias Priya Saha, the executive director of Self-Help Association for Rural People through Education and Entrepreneurship, or SHAREE, met the US president at the latter’s office in Washington DC on July 17 during a global forum. She was accompanied by 16 other representatives from different countries and of different faiths.

During the meeting, she alleged that Muslim fundamentalists in Bangladesh torched her house in Pirojpur and sought the US president’s assistance in preventing ‘disappearance’ of the members of the religious minority community in Bangladesh.

The video that went viral shows Preo Bala meeting the US president and saying, ‘I am from Bangladesh. Here 37 million Hindus, Buddhists and Christians disappeared. Please help us ... We want to stay in our country. Still there is [sic] 18 million minority people.’

She went on to add, ‘We do not want to leave our country. Just help up to stay. I have lost my home. They burnt my home and they have taken my land but there is no justice in sight.’

In reaction, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Saturday said that the process was underway to take actions against NGO official Preo Bala Biswas.

Addressing a press conference at AL president’s office in Dhanmondi, Obaidul Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said that Preo Bala’s remark was ‘sedition’ and it would only provoke the communal forces hiding inside the country.

The ruling party spokesperson said that he talked with several leaders of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council over the matter but they were not in agreement with the remark and they said they would file a protest against it.

In the statement, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said ‘It appears that there was an ulterior motive behind Ms Saha’s absolutely false and concocted stories that intended to malign Bangladesh.’

‘Bangladesh is a beacon of religious freedom and communal harmony, where people of all faiths have been living in peace for ages,’ read the statement.

Government of Bangladesh would expect that organisers of such a big international event would invite responsible individuals who would promote the true spirit and value of religious freedom, it said.

The US embassy in Dhaka was yet to make any formal comment on the selection process of Preo Bala for the selective talks with their president during the second ministerial to advance religious freedom around the world held at the US Department of State in Washington, DC between July 16-18, 2019.

Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad joint general secretary Tapash Kumar Pal told New Age that Preo was one of their eight organisation secretaries but was so ambitious and was linked to a number of hard-line Hindu organisations.

‘Her house was not torched. Rather the house that was burnt belonged to her retired government official brother. We protested against that incident but it was not related to any communal issue,’ said Tapash.

‘More interestingly,’ he said, ‘Preo Bala used to operate two of her Facebook accounts — one of them went by the name of Preo Bala, through which she used to share positive thoughts and showcased her NGO activities, and the other was Priya Saha, through which she used to spread hate speeches coloured by communalism.’

The police investigators, meanwhile, said there were disputes over khash lands between the people of Uzirpur upazila in Pirojpur and Chitalmari upazila in Bagerhat since 1983 and over 18 cases were filed so far and both Hindu and Muslim people were named in those cases.

An abandoned tin-shed house was torched on March 2, 2019, and three persons were arrested in connection with a case filed by one named Kaamlesh, who was the caretaker of the house that belonged to Preo Bala’s brother, said Uzirpur police station inspector (investigation) Muhammad Zakaria.

‘The land dispute is no way related to any communal issue and everyone is aware of this,’ said Pirojpur police superintendent Hayatul Islam Khan.   

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