Members of the Santal community in Gobindaganj upazila of Gaibandha district today observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples reiterating their demand for establishment of all rights and privileges to the indigenous people as provided by the state.
Several hundred people from the Santal communities of Joypurpara and Madarpur villages in the upazila brought out a procession towards the local Shaheed Minar premises, hosting banners, festoons and placards marking the day, reports our Gaibandha correspondent.
They marched eight-kilometre distance in the upazila before police intercepted their procession and halted their movement at Gobindaganj Girls’ School intersection.
Later, the Santal people staged a demonstration there, chanting slogans against police action and demanded justice for the Santal men who were killed at Shahebganj cane farm in Gaibandha.
The programme was organised jointly by Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee, Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, Bangladesh Adibashi Union, Adibashi-Bangalee Sanhati Parishad, Janauddog and CPB.
The speakers at the programme said indigenous peoples have individual culture, customs and norms, and have all the rights to live with dignity alongside the mainstream society.
However, the indigenous people have always been kept isolated in the state policies, so they are still deprived of their rights, they said.
Referring to the incident of Shahebganj cane farm in 2016, the speakers demanded exemplary punishment of police personnel and people involved in killing three Santal men and torching their sheds in the name of eviction drive.
On November 6, 2016, three Santal men -- Shamol Hembrom, Mangal Murdy and Romesh Tudu -- were killed in police firing and some others were injured as police and local people attacked Santal people who erected a village at Shahebganj cane farm claiming their forefather’s properties.
Over 1500 sheds in the Santal village were torched and household articles of the people were looted.