The 40-year-old has only had one pellet removed from inside his mouth. But Dijen has wounds all over his body.
He has been in custody since the first day and although initially tied to the hospital bed with handcuffs, the law enforcers let him be during the day.
Since then, Dijen has undergone several tests and is awaiting results before his treatment will supposedly begin at the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital in Dhaka. “The only treatment he received to take out the pellet from his mouth was at Parbatipur Hospital,” said his sister Martha, who is his the only attendant.
The police arrested Dijen on the very first day when violent clashes broke out between local administration and the Santals. Dijen Tudu is accused of “police assault” according to Gaibandha Police Superintendent Ashraful Islam.
Also Read- Santal people’s fate remains unchanged
The siblings from Gaibandha have been at their wit's end over this ordeal. “I cried so much that my tears have dried up,” said a crestfallen Martha. Both her parents are blind too, she said.
“He is our elder brother. If he becomes blind what will happen then?” asked Martha in exasperation.
When asked if he could talk, Dijen barely nodded. “Yes,” he whispered. But it was impossible to hear. He continued to whisper about his children. “My two-year-old loves me the most,” said the Santal man about his youngest son, who does not go anywhere without his father.
[caption id="attachment_32462" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Dijen Tudu lies in the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital in Dhaka eyes injured by shotgun pellets Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
An Ayurvedic village doctor, Dijen Tudu has patients in several districts including Dhaka. He was been to the capital city several times. “I would have come to Dhaka to see patients this winter,” he said. But fate had other plans. “I am only too happy to be alive.”
There were at least 15 police vehicles and they attacked first, described Dijen about the events of November 6. “We are simple people but we were forced to fight back.”
Dijen said the policemen opened fire all of a sudden when a group of Santals advanced to prevent the police.
Also Read- Injured Gaibandha Santals being treated in handcuffs
“People came and looted our houses and burnt everything.” He broke down as he was speaking. “If I come out of this alive and if possible I will leave this country with my family. I do not want to be in a country where I have no rights, where even my life is at risk.
“Since childhood, I have experienced that we do not have any freedom. This country fails to ensure its citizens' rights. We lost everything.”
Dijen laments that this was not the first case where justice had been denied to the Santals. “There have been previous instances too, where we did not get justice.
“We are like birds, flying from one place to another,” says Dijen about the plight of ethnic minorities.
Dijen was right at the front at that fateful moment when the police came to his village. He was shot as the second round went off. Breathing heavier, he said: “I cannot sleep with this pain. They handcuff me after midnight and take it off in the morning.
“I hope I will get well soon and go back to my family.”
When asked, Gaibandha‘s Superintendent of Police Ashraful Islam, however, denied handcuffing Dijen Tudu.
Also Read- Madarpur, a godforsaken village
Jyotirmoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer, said handcuffing an accused or criminal depends on the likelihood of that person escaping custody. “But, it is not clear according to the law.
“The recent incidents of Santal men being handcuffed while admitted in hospital for treatment are irrational and humiliating. I will file a petition seeking a court order directing the police not to handcuff them,” he added.