Oikya Parishad suspends Priya Saha over her comments | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:25 PM, July 23, 2019

Oikya Parishad suspends Priya Saha over her comments

The Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad yesterday suspended Priya Saha, one of its organising secretaries, on disciplinary grounds following her recent comments made to the US president.

She has been discharged from all organisational activities, the parishad said in a statement.

The decision was made at an urgent meeting of the parishad’s standing committee at its office. It was presided over by presidency committee member Prof Nim Chandra Bhowmick, the statement reads.

Meanwhile, leaders of minority communities yesterday condemned the comments made by Priya, terming those “fabricated, false and purposeful”.

“Seeking justice from another state over the country’s [Bangladesh’s] internal issue is not acceptable,” Subrata Paul, a Hindu community leader, said while reading out a joint statement of the government-owned Hindu Religious Welfare Trust, Buddhist Religious Welfare Trust, and Christian Religious Welfare Trust.

He was addressing a press conference arranged by the three organisations at the capital’s Jatiya Press Club.

Subrata urged the government to identify “instigators and vested groups” behind Priya’s comments through a fair probe, and to take necessary steps in this regard.

Responding to a query, Subrata said the government and law enforcement agencies should investigate whether her comments were “seditious”.

Christian Religious Welfare Trust Secretary Nirmal Rosario said he and Priya were part of the same government delegation that attended a conference in the US.

Priya was included as a “victim survivor” and she also made a presentation at the conference, which was not made according to the comments she made to the US president, Nirmal said.

Also a member of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, he said Priya’s claims did not match the parishad’s position because in the past “it never mentioned any figure” while talking about this issue.

Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the government would not take any hasty decision to this end.

She will be quizzed and will have to explain her statement once she returns to the country, Quader told journalists at his ministry office.

Priya, one of the organising secretaries of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, drew huge criticism after she told US President Donald Trump that 37 million people from religious minorities had been “disappeared” from Bangladesh.

Attending a programme at the White House last Thursday, she also told the president that her land had been grabbed by Muslim fundamentalists and sought his help so that religious minorities could live in Bangladesh.

After the video of her making the comments went viral, the foreign ministry on Saturday protested and said what Priya told the president were “all blatant lies”.

PROF BARKAT DISMISSES PRIYA’S CLAIM

Bangladesh Economic Association President Prof Abul Barkat yesterday said Priya Saha distorted his research findings.

Issuing a statement, he said after her meeting with the US President, Priya in a video interview cited his name and claimed that her statistics were according to his research findings.

“There is no similarity between Priya Saha’s aforementioned statistics and my research findings,” Prof Barkat said in the statement.

“In my count, in about five decades, from 1964 to 2013, an estimated 1.13 crore Hindus have gone missing…Nowhere have I said ‘3 crore and 70 lakh Hindus-Buddhists-Christians were missing’. Moreover, she never mentioned that the duration of my research data was of 50 years -- from 1964 to 2013.”

She further claimed she “directly worked with him” in 2011 which was why she was aware of the matter.

“Priya Saha was never my co-researcher, research associate or research assistant,” he further said, demanding that she immediately withdraw her comments.

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