Santals in Gaibandha observe Int’l Day for Indigenous People
Over 500 people from the Santal community in Gobindaganj upazila of Gaibandha district observed the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples today with elaborate programmes.
They brought out procession from the Joypurpara and Madarpur villages in the upazila towards Gobindaganj upazila town, under the banners of the Sahebganj-Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee, Adivasi-Bangalee Sanghati Parishad, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Union, Janauddog and ALRD, Gaibandha and marched all the major thoroughfares of the upazila.
Later, they formed a human chain on Dhaka-Rangpur Highway at the Gobindaganj Thana intersection where they demanded their ancestors' land back, justice for the three Santal men who were killed in a police firing in 2016 and incentives from the government for the loss of income due to the ongoing pandemic.
They also demanded to ensure all the rights and privileges they are entitled to.
This year, the world is observing the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples with the slogan of "Covid-19 and indigenous people's resilience".
Speakers alleged that four years have passed since the eviction drive and Santal killings but no initiatives have been taken from the government to return the land of Santal community.
Philemon Baske, President of the Sahebganj-Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee said, "During the Covid-19 pandemic, the people of Santal community are struggling to manage food for their families as they have no work."
"Many people are starving but the district administration did not provide adeqaute relief to us," he said, urging the government to stand by them during this ongoing pandemic.
He said the people from Santal community shed their blood for the country's independence.
But it is a matter of regret that the Santal community have been losing their forefathers' land after independence, he claimed, demanding their ancestral land back.
Speakers also alleged that the main accused who was the then MP of the Gobindaganj constituency, Abul Kalam Azad, and some policemen were involved in torturing, looting and killings of the Santal men (Shamol Hembrom, Mangal Murdy and Romesh Tudu) on November 6, 2016 but Gaibandha PBI dropped their names from the charge sheets.
CID is now investigating the case. They urged CID to conduct a fair investigation.
Rabindranath Soren, president of the Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, spoke at the programme from Dhaka over mobile phone while Mihir Ghosh, president of the Gaibandha district CPB unit, also spoke at the event, among others.
On November 6, 2016, three Santal men were killed in police firing and some others were injured as police and locals attacked a Santal village at Sahebganj.
Over 2,000 makeshift houses of the Santal village were torched while their valuables were looted during the incident.