Bangladesh: Give Back the Land Santal’s Demands in 164thHool Diwas at Gaibandha

The Santal indigenous community in Gobindagonj subdistrict of Gaibandha at a assembly demanded that the government to return around 1,842 acres of land belonging to their forefathers in 164 Hool Diwas(Santal Revolution) commemoration on 28June 2019. Hool means Revolutionin the Santali language. Every year 30 June Santals memorialize the martyr of ‘Santal Revolution’with great reverence.

The programme was jointly organized by Sahebganj Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee, Adivasi Bengali Sanghati Parishad, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Union, Kapaeeng Foundation and Jano Uddyog-Gaibandha unit.

Earlier, hundreds of Santal men and women brought out a protest procession, carrying santals traditional arrow and bow, hosting red flags, placard, banners and festoons, and paraded from Sahebganj Bagda Farm to Gobindaganj Central Saheed Minar before staging protest assembly on the Saheed Minar Premises of Gobindaganj municipality and declared a 7-point demands to the government. The unified Santal-Bengali assembly also announced to hold sit-in programmed before DIG premises in Rangpur on July 17, 2019. Mr. Philimon Baskey, President of Sahebganj Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee (SBFBUSC) presided the demonstration.

Their demands include- return their forefathers land (1,842 acres) through requisition; established separate land commission for plain land indigenous peoples; provided appropriate compensation for the deceased and injured Santals and arrest of masterminds behind the incident; withdrawal of cases filed against evicted Santals and stop police harassment of the Santals and Bengali farmers; relocation of the acquired land among Santals through the East Bengal (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act 1948 (No. VIII of 1948); trying to arrest and punish the police members who set fire to the Santal houses; mark the Sugar mill officials who were involved in leasing off the Mill’s land violating terms and conditioned mentioned in land acquisition documents and take legal action against them.

It is to be recalled that on 6 Nov 2016, more than 1200 indigenous Santal peoples were displaced from their ancestral land (1842.30 acres) where 3 were shot dead, 200 houses burnt, 30 injured and at least 30 leaders were jailed by the state owned industrial corporation, named, “Rangpur Sugar Mills Ltd. at Bagda Farm under Gobindagonj upazila, Gaibandha district in Bangladesh. Many of them are presently in fear of being arrested as 8 false cases filed against 105 farmers which 58 of them are Santals and rests are local Bengalis. After the attack, more than 38 indigenous peoples were arrested in this connection. Many of them released on bail and some of them are still waiting for bail.Although ruling party (Bangladesh Awami League) General Secretary Obaidul Quader pledges to settle the disputes but yet the issue remain settled.

The speakers alleged that although nearly three years have already gone past by the violent attack against the Santal and the Bengali farmers at Sahebgonj Bagda-Farm, family members of the victims neither got any compensation nor the Santals are rehabilitated. They urged the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) authorities to submit the investigation report immediately, so that the culprits behind the incident can be brought under trial.

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

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