‘Why is govt always after marginalised peoples’ land?’
"On this day in 2016, three Santal brothers were killed, but they did not get justice till today. The killers were identified but never arrested," former caretaker government's adviser and human rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal said yesterday.
"When justice isn't meted out for the crimes committed, the state and its people have to bear the stigma. And we as conscious citizens can't allow that to happen," she said at a rally organised by local Santals and Bangalees at Kantarmore in Gaibandha's Gobindaganj upazila.
"Those who run the state cannot rest until justice is served, and we will not let them rest... We want to see our three friends get justice," she further said.
"We want to see those responsible for the crime get the punishment they deserve," she added.
Five years ago, three Santal men were killed and many injured during a clash, as police tried to evict an entire Santal community from a piece of land that, according to locals, they got from their ancestors. But the authorities of Rangpur Sugar Mills claimed that it was theirs.
The Santals are now facing homelessness again, as they are among the nearly 1,500 families who might be evicted to make way for setting up an export processing zone (EPZ).
The Santals have been regularly demonstrating against the planned EPZ.
On November 12, 2019, the government decided to establish the EPZ on 1,832.27 acres of land at a governing body meeting of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority.
The EPZ the government plans to establish will make the 1,500 Santal families homeless, and they will lose the land where they grow rice and other crops.
Sultana Kamal protested and asked, "Why should the Santals leave their Bagda Farm?"
"Why harbour such a mentality? There is state policy, and the prime minister has mentioned in her various speeches that no industry will be allowed on crop lands," she told the rally.