Priya was taken to White House by US govt
It is the State Department of USA, which invited and made the arrangement for Priya Saha to reach White House and interact with Donald Trump, Saha said in an interview with the Daily Observer on Sunday. Priya made a highly controversial comment to seek the US President's help to rescue the minority communities in Bangladesh drawing huge media attention at home and outrage of the people.
She alleged that 37 million Hindus, Buddhists and Christians had disappeared
from the country, persecuted at the hands of fundamentalist Muslims groups, who enjoyed political support. Explaining her position about this remark, Priya said, "I did not mean that those people were killed or fell victim to enforced disappearance. The appropriate English word might be 'missing'. But, you should understand that English is a foreign language to me. I used that word (disappeared), for 'missing'. That word came from my tongue."
I did not mean that the people have been killed. I wanted to say that the number of minority communities is not proportional. The minority people are gradually decreasing," she added.
Referring to a 2011 study report of Dhaka University Professor Abul Barkat, she said, Nearly 2.2 million acres of land were grabbed from the minorities. A huge number of people were forced to leave the country for this reason. At least 632 Hindu people left the country on average everyday from 1964 to 2013."
"Personally, I was engaged in that research work along with Abul Barkat. So I know the thing well," she also claimed. Priya Saha participated in the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held at the US Department of State in Washington, DC on July 16-18.
Regarding a question as to why and how she went to USA, Priya said, "No, the Unity Council did not nominate me. The State Department of the USA invited me directly and brought me here. I have come here almost abruptly. Nobody in the Unity Council knew that I will be here."
About getting the chance to talk to Donald Trump, Priya said, "We met Trump at Oval Office. I was not aware of the possibility any meeting with the president even 40 minutes before. Other Bangladesh delegates -Nirmal Chatterjee, Nirmal Rozario and another- told me: let us prepare to go to the White House."
"US Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback led us on the way to the Oval Office. We were taken there with strict arrangements. After going there, I heard about the possibility of seeing Trump. Initially, I thought the president will deliver a lecture to us. But I witnessed some people are taking the chance to talk to him. I also availed myself of the opportunity."
Questioned about her claim of disappearance of 37 million people, she said, "I said it on the basis of statistics provided by Bangladesh government. In 1947 there were 29.7 per cent minority population including Hindu, Buddhists and Christians in Bangladesh. Now Bangladesh has a 180 million strong population. So, the number of minorities should be 53.5 million. But according to the 2011 census Bangladesh now has only 9.7 per cent minorities. That means, Bangladesh has only 17.5 million minorities. The rest of the minority population is missing! Where did they go?"
Priya said the Hindu people have been suffering from one kind of confidence gap, as the government announced Islam as state religion. They started to think themselves as second class citizens in the country.
She criticized the state's deviation from the secular spirit of the Liberation War but also said, "The present prime minister of Bangladesh is fighting against communalism. The attacks on minorities have decreased for this reason. We, from the Unity Council, formally thanked the Prime Minister as the minorities were not attacked during and after the December 30 general election."
"The Prime Minister is trying to keep harmony and fight the fundamentalist forces. It is a problem for the country. The Prime Minister is showing zero tolerance towards communalism. I want the same, as the Prime Minister wants to free the country from communalism. The United States is also against fundamentalism. I said those words, so that both the countries can work together against communalism and fundamentalism."
She said that most of the Muslims in Bangladesh are non-communal and peace loving. They are also cooperative with the minorities as well, adding "But there are some rogues, who do the misdeeds." "I believe that the non-communal people in my country will understand my position and will not be misled by the propaganda of the communal quarters," she added.
She vowed to return to Bangladesh and remain engaged in the fight against communalism and fundamentalism until her death. Her family in Bangladesh is at stake, Priya alleged and hoped that the government will ensure their security.