The trial of the murder of three Santals in Gobindaganj of Gaibandha, immediate arrest of the accused and stopping the construction of EPZ on the blood-soaked three crop lands of the Santals has been demanded. The Santals made the demand at a rally in the Sahebganj-Bagdapharm Katamor area of Gobindaganj upazila on Saturday (November 8) morning on the occasion of Santal Killing Day.
Earlier, a minute of silence was observed in memory of Mangal Mardi, Ramesh Tudu and Shyamal Hembrum, who were killed by laying flowers and lighting candles at the temporary martyr’s altar at the eviction site at Jaipur Madarpur in Santalpalli. Later, more than five hundred Santal-Bengalis took part in the mourning procession with banners, festoons and black flags. At the end of the rally, the indigenous Santals showcased their heritage and culture in a cultural program with arrows, bows and musical instruments. Sahebganj-Bagdapharm Land Rescue Struggle Committee, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Union, Adivasi-Bangali Samhati Parishad, North Bengal Adivasi Forum, ALRD, Kapeng Foundation, CDA Dinajpur and Janudyog Gaibandha jointly organized these programs.
Sahebganj Bagdapharm Land Rescue Struggle Committee President presided over the meeting. In the film box. Sultana Kamal, a human rights activist and former adviser to the caretaker government, Shamsul Huda, a land rights activist and executive director of ALRD, and Robayet Ferdous, a professor at Dhaka University, spoke. Gaibandha District Bar General Secretary Adv. Sirajul Islam Babu, Biodiversity Researcher Pavel Perth, Sabin Chandra Munda, General Secretary of National Indigenous Council, Zakir Hossain, Executive Director of Citizens’ Enterprise, Golam Maruf Mona, District Jasad President, Prabir Chakraborty, Member Secretary of Janudyog Gaibandha, Harendranath Singh , Khokon Sweeten Murmu, Coordinator of Kapeng Foundation, Jahangir Kabir Tanu and others. Among others, tribal leaders Priscilla Murmu, Thomas Hembrum, Sufal Hembrum, Sahebganj Bagdapharm Land Rescue Struggle Committee Organizing Secretary Swapan Sheikh, Golam Rabbani Musa, Abdul Khaleq, Anjali Rani Devi, Mrinal Kanti Barman and Sujan Prasad spoke.
Speakers at a seven-point rally in Gobindganj on November 7, 2016, demanding the killing of three Santals, arson, looting, vandalism, compensation for torture and full rights to ancestral land, said three Santals were killed in Sahebganj area Indigenous people have not received real justice. In addition, the chargesheets investigated by the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police have dropped the names of the main accused in the case and important persons including setting fire to Santals’ houses.
The speakers demanded justice for Santal’s murder, arrest of the accused and stopping the construction of EPZs on the blood-soaked three crop lands of Santals. But the announcement of setting up EPZ on the ancestral lands of Sahebganj-Baghdapharm and the ancestors of the Bengalis without any independent, prior consent with the heirs there has disappointed the Adivasi-Bengali people. They demanded immediate cessation of the process of setting up EPZs on three crop lands, implementation of seven points including formation of separate and independent land commissions to resolve the land crisis of the plains tribals.
It may be mentioned that the local Santals formed a movement in the middle of 2016 by claiming the land of Rangpur Sugar Mill in Gobindaganj of Gaibandha as their ancestors. Sahebganj Bagdapharm Land Rescue Struggle Committee was formed to recover the land. Various programs started. On November 8 of that year, the Santals clashed with the sugar mill authorities and the police over the cutting of sugarcane from the land. Three members of the Santal community were killed and at least 20 others, including police, were injured. This day is being observed as Santal Killing Day by several organizations including the victims.