Constitutional recognition of indigenous people demanded
Kakan Hennyata, who is also known as Kakan Bibi, an indigenous female freedom fighter from the Khasi community, has every right to be aggrieved.
Although she fought in as many as 20 battles with the Pakistani occupation forces and supplied arms and food to the freedom fighters in Sector No 5 during the liberation war in 1971, her contribution to the country's independence had never been acknowledged.
And she is no exception; the entire indigenous community is being badly treated in the country. They are being evicted from their own land, let alone acknowledging someone's contribution.
“I am Kakan Bibi. Everything seems beautiful here, everything seems okay and very good. I thank you all. That's it,” this is all that an aggrieved Kakan Bibi had to say after receiving the Sidhu-Kanhu-Fulmoni Award at a reception at Engineers' Institution in the city yesterday.
The way Kakan Bibi was ignored bears testimony to the story of deprivation and marginalisation the indigenous people have underwent in the country over the years.
Kakan Bibi, 82, received the award at a daylong ceremony organised to mark the 154th anniversary of Santal Hool (rebellion).
Speakers at the programme reiterated their demands for constitutional recognition of the indigenous people, introducing primary education in their mother tongue, recognition of their land rights and return of the lands that had been grabbed.
“The indigenous people's right to land has not been ensured till date. It is not only a matter of shame but also sheer disregard for humanity,” said noted academic Prof Khan Sarwar Murshid in his speech as the chief guest.
He handed over the award -- a crest, Tk 20000 and a citation, to Kakan Bibi.
“Today we are recognising someone who had helped us win the liberation war being a successor of Sidhu-Kanhu-Fulmoni,” said litterateur Selina Hossain, who presided over the award giving ceremony.
The daylong programme was divided into four sessions. Earlier, a discussion on 'Constitutional recognition of Adivasi: precondition to build a democratic and religion impartial society' was held.
The daylong programme organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Adhikar Andolon ended with placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar following a cultural function staged by different indigenous communities.
The speakers at the programme demanded withdrawal of fake cases filed against the indigenous people, separate land commission for indigenous people on plain land and immediate arrest of the people involved in the attack on the indigenous people in Naogaon.