The High Court issued a ruling on Tuesday asking why the looting, arson attack, shooting and killing of Santals in the name of eviction in Gobindaganj, Gaibandha would not be declared illegal.
The court also asked why the authorities concerned would not be directed to take legal actions under the Code of Criminal Procedure against the individuals involved in the attack.
A High Court bench of Justice Obaidul Hassan and Krishna Debnath issued the ruling after hearing a writ petition filed by Olivia Hembrom and Rumila Kisku, two Santal women who were victims in the attack, on Monday.
The court asked 12 government officials, including the local lawmaker in Gobindaganj and secretaries at the Ministries of Home Affairs, Industries, Land and Law, to respond to the ruling within two weeks.
Speaking to reporters, Jyotirmoy Barua, one of the counsels for the petitioners, said according to the law, the district administration is required to issue a notice to an individual or a party occupying a land or an establishment at least 30 days before eviction.
“But the deputy commissioner of Gaibandha did not issue such a notice to the Gobindaganj Santals,” he said.
Besides, the upazila nirbahi officer of Gobindaganj led the eviction drive without the official authorities, which makes the drive illegal, Jyotirmoy added.
“The looting, arson attack, shooting and killing are criminal offences, and they cannot be justified under any law or authority,” he told reporters.
The petition also prayed for the court's directive to form a judicial commission to investigate the attack.
“The court will hold another hearing on November 30,” Jyotirmoy said.
On November 6 and 7, Gobindaganj upazila administration evicted around 600 Santals from a land in Sahebganj-Bagda sugarcane farm area.
Three Santal men died and many more were injured when they protested the eviction, and the all the Santal houses were burnt to the ground.
The eviction was carried out by police, RAB and BGB members and assisted by local Bangalis allegedly loyal to the local lawmaker.