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Uncertainty still haunts Santals

  • Published at 02:01 am January 6th, 2017
Uncertainty still haunts Santals
People from the Santal communities said yesterday that most of the Santal people who had fled the Madarpur and Joypur villages after the attacks had returned, however, some Santal men were yet to make their way back due to fear of police arrest. Philimon Baskey, a local indigenous leader, told the Dhaka Tribune that the community was still in a frightened state, as the rejection of bail for some Santal men has been adding to these fears. Philimon added that they had to postpone their divisional rally in Rangpur city today, on the occasion of two months after the attack, after District Commissioner Abdus Samad rejected the application verbally. The commissioner had rejected the application in favour of a Development Fair in the city on the same day, so they would be holding a press conference on Saturday instead, Philimon said. Nearly 2 thousand Santals have taken shelter adjacent to the Madarpur and Joypur villages. The people from the Santal communities also said that they face an uncertain future as they are unable to discern whether they have been given their ancestral lands back. Bhupen Mardy, a Madarpur village dweller, said that work to pursue their livelihood was particularly difficult to come by after losing their lands. “We have been living in uncertain conditions,” he said. The villagers added that they had received relief from different non-government organizations and individuals, but there was still a shortage of food. Hilium Tudu, father of Dwijen Tudu who lost his vision in the attacks, told the Dhaka Tribune that they had been living under tents, but aside from the food shortages, clothing that had been provided was sufficient. Hilium expressed optimism over the judicial inquiry into the attacks,  saying that he hoped they would get justice. Dwijen Tudu was released yesterday from the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital after two months of treatment. “I feel better than I did before. While the vision in my left eye was lost completely, I can still see things from my right, but it is not clear yet. The doctor says it needs more time to get better”, Dwijen told Dhaka Tribune over the phone yesterday afternoon. Bimal Kisku and Charan Soren, who got bullet injuries in their legs, are yet to recover, he added. Two villages- Madarpur and Joypur, under the Sapmara union of Gobindaganj upazila- came under attack on November 6 and 7, leaving three Santal men dead and over 2,500 displaced. Three cases have been filed regarding the attacks on Santal people in Gobindaganj, but no changes have been made, according to the Gobindaganj Thana Officer in Charge Subrata Kumar Sarkar. Local lawmaker Abul Kalam Azad and Sapmara Union chairman Shakil Ahmed Bulbul, along with their goons, police and the administration were allegedly behind the attacks on Santals. It was seen that the sugar mill authority has begun to cultivate sugarcane on the lands where the Santal communities once lived and cultivated.