The evictions of Gaibandha’s Santal people from their land shows an alarming trend of growing hostility toward ethnic and religious minorities in the country.
While Bangladesh still recovers from the waves of attacks on the Hindu community, the Santals of Gaibandha have been dealt a blow from which they may not recover.
Why are we failing so miserably to protect our marginalised and vulnerable communities?
After driving some 1,200 families out of their land, police are now confining the Santals to three villages of Sapmara union, where they live in appalling conditions, a clear violation of human rights.
It is not acceptable for the government to expect these Santal people to live without proper employment, and without access to food and medicine.
It is the solemn duty of the authorities to take human rights into account when dealing with them.
The technicalities behind the ownership of the land are not the most pressing concern -- the Santal people of the area have been lied to and betrayed by the local authorities. Both the UP chairman and the local lawmaker are guilty of doling out false promises to the Santal people, making assurances that their land and homes would not be taken away from them.
The most urgent need of the hour is to come up with a proper solution for Santals -- to help them get back on their feet, and to compensate for the displacement, hardship, and trauma they have endured.
Santals have the same basic human rights as the rest of the country’s citizens.
It is totally unacceptable to steamroll over minority groups simply because they lack the power to fight back effectively.
We must stand with the Santals in their hour of need, and work towards giving them back their lives.