Adivasi leaders demand for the inclusion of main accused in charge sheet
Adivasi leaders demanded the inclusion of main accused persons in the charge sheet filed for attacking the Santal village in the Gobindaganj upazila of Gaibandha on November 6, 2016 which left three adivasi people - Shamal Hembram, Mangal Mardi and Ramesh Tudu, dead.
Leaders from the Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Association for Land Reform and Development ALRD) and Kapaeeng Foundation made this demand in a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity jointly arranged by the five organizations on Wednesday.
In a written statement signed by Jafrul Islam Prodhan, general secretary of the Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee and Rabindranath Soren, president of the Jatiya Adivasi Parishad said and read by the Khokon Sweeten Murmu, project coordinator of Kapaeeng Foundation said: “Without any court order, Rangpur Sugar Mill authority along with more than 500 police force, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and local ally, attacked innocent adivasi, looted their assets, vandalized and set fire to their houses and then opened fire. Shamal Hembram, Mangal Mardi and Ramesh Tudu died due to this firing and17 adivasis were severely injured.”
A case was filled by Thomas Hembram after 10 days of the incident accusing 33 persons including the then local parliament member Abul Kalam Azad.
Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) placed the charge sheet of the case before the senior magistrate court of Gobindaganj against 90 people on July 28 this year. But PBI dropped the name of the main accused, the then Member of Parliament Abul Kalam Azad.
Plaintiff Thomas Hembram filled a no confidence petition on September 4 this year asking the inclusion of main accused persons. Court heard the petition on November 4 and set a new date for further hearing on November 28.
Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD and Mesbah Kamal, Professor of the University of Dhaka spoke in the press conference.
Jafrul Islam Prodhan, general secretary of the Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee said : “We only demanded our right on the land of our successors. But they killed us, set fire to our houses. We want justice.
Shamsul Huda said : “There is no legal bar to give their successors land back to them.”
Mejbah Kamal said : “Main accused Abul Kalam Azad is not an MP now. I do not understand why he cannot be arrested him.”
Dispute over the land
It was from here that the Pakistani government evicted 22500 families of 21 villages in 1962 to set up a cane firm for the sugar mill. Those evicted went on to settle in other parts of the country. A 1962 deal between Pakistan's central and provincial governments had a clause that the land (1842 acres) would be handed over to the previous owners if it was used for other purposes.
The sugar mill stopped production in 2004 but the land was leased allegedly to local politicians and affluent people. Although some of those families returned to lay claim to the land, they were only able to build makeshift houses there in July. They were once again displaced on November 6, 2016.