Case panics Naogaon Adivasi clash victims
Having lost their bread-earners in the May 4 clash, families of four Adivasi labourers in Naogaon are passing their life in panic, as police recorded a case filed by the alleged killers against a number of unnamed Adivasi men.
The families expressed their fears on Friday when a group of social activists, including lawyers, journalists, and development activists led by columnist Syed Abul Maksud from Dhaka, visited them at Pungi Niboda village in Niamatpur.
Kristina Hembrom, wife of Ilias Mardi, one of the four murdered, alleged that police recorded a case of the killers, accusing 10-12 unnamed Adivasi people to counter their murder case.
“We are worried and fearing arrest any time for the case”, she said, in tears. Kristina said she was also anxious about her future with her two sons.
Ilias Mardi, Madan Hembrom, Moharam Marang and Koki Tudu were killed in a clash between the supporters of two rivalling land owners at Chalk Gopal village in Manda upazila, where they went to work after being hired by Abdul Alim, one of the owners.
Abdul Alim has been in feud with one Anwar Hossain over eight bighas of land.
Kristina said Alim hired five Adivasi labourers for harvesting paddy for a rate of Tk 2,500 per bigha a day before the clash. “Alim's offer was lucrative as labourers usually work at Tk 200 per day. Alim said he was having a shortage of labourers”.
The widows said they were not aware that their husbands had been hired.
“I felt like a bolt out of the blue when I heard of the murder", said Maina Hembrom, wife of Madan Hembrom. "And now police are also acting against us”.
The only surviving Adivasi man in the incident, Chandi Kisku, was now fleeing home following the case, they said.
Syed Abul Maksud told the families that they would pressure the government for ensuring justice.
Noted jurist Barrister Rafiq-ul Huq, who was also in the team of visitors, said recording a case against fellow men of the victims was like murdering the victims once more.
Asked why police took the case against the Adivasi men, Superintendent of Police (SP) of Naogaon YM Belalur Rahman said it was because Anwar Hossain claimed that Abdul Alim forcibly wanted to harvest crops of the land, of which he was the actual owner.
He said he would ask police not to harass or arrest the Adivasi men.
The visitors' team also included journalist Saleem Samad, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum organising secretary Saktipada Tripura, Dhaka University teacher Robaet Ferdous, and Kapaeeng Foundation's Dipayan Khisa.