DHAKA, Bangladesh, Sept. 3 (UPI)--After long 35 years of state ownership, the Bangladesh government Sunday decided to return property taken from Hindus in 1965 and Biharis who collaborated with Pakistani government during Bangladesh's war of liberation in 1971.
The decision will pave the way for the owners or their successors to repossess more than 600,000 acres of land listed as vested property, now occupied by either the government or other people through leasing.
In 1965, the Pakistani government declared the property of those who left the country as 'enemy property'. Four years later, the then government promulgated an ordinance to this effect. Following the India-Pakistan war in 1965, a large number of Hindus left the country for India.
In 1974 the Bangladesh government amended the enemy property ordinance into 'Vested Property Act', giving the same status to the property of Biharis who opted for Pakistan.
Despite demand for return of the assets, no government took the responsibility of handing over the property estimated to be several billion dollars to their original owners.
Some 10 Lakh Hindu families or 50 lakh members of the community were affected by the black law.
Meantime, political leaders and representatives of the Hindu community welcomed the government decision, saying the law was a gross violation of human rights.
The government will formulate a draft law for restoration of ownership of the vested property.