A Santal man has filed a GD against Gobindaganj lawmaker Prof Abul Kalam Azad and Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Abdul Hannan, along with hundreds of others, with Gobindaganj police station
Thomas Hembrom, resident of Harinmari village in Gobindaganj upazila and one of the Santals who were violently evicted from their ancestral land in Shahebganj-Bagda sugarcane farm of Rangpur Sugar Mill Ltd, filed the general diary (GD) around 2pm on Saturday.
Gobindaganj police station OC (investigation) Al Md Nazmul Ahmed registered the GD, in which 32 individuals were accused of being involved in the attack on Santals.
Thomas also listed 400-500 unidentified individuals as suspects in the attack.
He was accompanied by a 10-member delegation comprising representatives of Association of Land Reforms and Development, Ain O Salish Kendra, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Nijerai Pari when he went to the police station to file the GD.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Gobindaganj OC Subrata Kumar Sarker said Rangpur Sugar Mill Managing Director Abdul Awal, Sapmara Union Parishad Chairman Shakil Ahmed Bulbul who is also the president of Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Gobindaganj unit, Katabari Union Parishad Chairman Md Rezaul Karim, local Awami League leader Md Hossain Fuku, and a few workers of the sugar mill are also among the accused listed in the GD.
This is the second case filed by Santals over the incident. The first one was filed on November 16 by Swapan Marmu, from Moalipara village in Gobindaganj, accusing 500-600 people, but none of the accused were named.
Also Read- Case filed over eviction drive on Santals
Santal leaders claimed that the first case was not filed by affected Santals.
“Police have tactfully made a Santal who lives outside of Madarpur and Joypurpara communities [the affected villages] and file the case to save the real culprits,” said Jatiya Adivasi Parishad President Rabindranath Soren in an immediate reaction.
OC Subrata said 20 people had been arrested in connection with the case filed by Swapan Marmu.
“Today’s [Saturday’s] complaint has been registered as a general diary and will be filed as a case after we receive the court’s order in this regard. Since a case has already been filed on the incident, we will take further action in accordance with the court’s directive,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Around 2,000 Santal families from 15 villages in the Shahebganj-Bagda farm area were evicted by police and RAB on November 6 and 7.
Local Bangalis loyal to the local lawmaker also took part in the eviction drive, looting and torching the Santal houses. At least three Santals were killed during clashes and at least 30 people were injured, including nine policemen.
Police filed at least three cases against the local Santals – the last one lodged after the November 6 eviction drive for obstructing the law enforcers from performing duties. Four Santals were arrested in this connection and are currently out on bail.
The land in question, originally owned by local Santals and some Bangalis, was acquired by the then-East Pakistan government in 1962 for the sugar mill. In 2014, some found that the contract for acquisition had been violated by the mill authority.
As the contract stated that any violation would transfer the land’s ownership back to the original owners, the Santals along with some Bangalis built 600 homes on 100 acres of the 1,842-acre farmland and started living there in July.
However, the evicted Santals told the Dhaka Tribune that both Sapmara UP Chairman Bulbul and Gobindaganj MP Azad had urged them to start living on the land.
Santals receive 67 more sacks of paddy
The sugar mill authorities handed 67 more sacks of paddy over to the Santals on Saturday, sources said.
The paddy, originally sown and cultivated by the Santals, was harvested by around 100 employees of the sugar mill who volunteered to harvest and package the paddy. A combined harvester machine was also used in the process.
Around 10 acres of paddy was harvested on Saturday, said the mill’s MD Abdul Awal.
The authorities started harvesting the paddy on Thursday and has given 149 sacks of paddy – amounting to 298 maunds or around 11,123kg – to Santals in the first three days, he added.
“We harvested 2.5 acres of paddy on Thursday and nine acres on Friday,” he said.
According to government estimate, the evicted Santals cultivated paddy in 45.5 acres of the disputed land.
“Paddy in 30 acres of that land is ready for harvest. The rest will need more time,” Awal said.
Like the first two days, Gobindaganj UNO Abdul Hannan, district administration magistrates Mezbah Uddin and Rafiul Alam, Gobindaganj OC Subrata Kumar Sarker and representatives from Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation were present during the harvesting on Saturday.