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Special: Madarpur, a godforsaken village

  • Published at 10:08 pm November 9th, 2016
  • Last updated at 10:31 pm November 9th, 2016

A bleak future is beckoning the people of indigenous Santal community after their houses were looted and burnt to ashes in Madarpur, a tiny hamlet in Gaibandha. The perpetrators did not go only to that length they are now also trying to ostracize the community by preventing even the children from going to school. The tribal people are even barred from shopping in local markets. The village is nestled in a remote part of Gaibandha. Mostly Santal people have long been livingon their ancestral land in harmony with a small number of Bangalees. There were six hundred households that were set on fire on the fateful days of last Sunday and Monday. Distraught and downhearted, the members of the Santal community are now living under the open sky in a nearby village of Sapmara union with no one to extend a helping hand. They said two Santal men were shot dead in the violent clash and ten more people left injured in several clashes. Many more have fled the village fearing arrest. They alleged that five to six more Santal people had been missing since the clash erupted. Goons of lawmaker Abul Kalam Azad and Chairman Shakil Ahmed Bulbul of Sapmara Union have encircled them from all directions preventing them from going out of their village periphery, they alleged. About 600 hundred Santal men, mostly female and children, took shelter in front of a pagoda. The Madarpur village is located adjacent to the land acquired from Santal community by then Pakistan administration for a sugar mill When this correspondent reached the village, a thirty-minute journey from Gobindaganj, he saw about four hundred grim-faced men and women huddlingtogether under shades of trees. The atmosphere was heavy. Anguish and anxiety were clearly written on their faces; they were tight-lipped as if something was preventing them from speaking out. Finally after a lot o insistence they spoke their heart out to this correspondent. “Nobody here cannot go outside for a work or to nearby Madarpur Bazar. What we had were looted and burnt down to the ground,” said Krishna Murmu. “We have been able to survive by sharing only a handful of rice,” he said. “Nobody can change their dresses as there was nothing left for them to put on,” adds Soban Soren. Rustom Ali, 50, was seen sporting a shirt with spots of blood. He said: “We are helpless. We don’t know what to eat and where to go? If someone goes out of the village he comes back after being beaten by local goons. If someone even goes out of the village to see their paddy fields police begin to whistle to scare them away. Bulai Tudu, 45, said everything was burnt and destroyed. I had only two cows in my newly-built home but those were looted with my little hut burnt to ashes.