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First case filed over anti-Santal drive

[ After being burned down and trampled, all that remains of this Madarpur home are the holes in the ground made for a stoveMehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

A case has been filed over the killings, loot and arson attacks on the Santal community people of Gobindaganj in Gaibandha on November 6 that left three dead and over 2,500 displaced.

Swapan Marmu, son of Somesh Marmu of Moalipara village in the upazila, filed the case early Thursday accusing 500-600 unknown people, Gobindaganj police OC Subrata Kumar Sarkar said.
The plaintiff was not affected during the drive. His whereabouts is also unknown to the local Santal leaders.
Jatiya Adivasi Parishad President Rabindranath Soren claimed that the case had not been filed on behalf of the affected Santals. “Police have tactfully made a Santal, living outside Madarpur and Joypurpara villages, file the case to save the real culprits. We will file a case on Sunday.”
Five people were detained in connection with the case early Thursday. They are Manik Miah, Badsha Miah, Choyan Miah, Abdur Rashid and Shah Newaz. Police produced them before a Gaibandha court at noon.
On November 6, the upazila administration evicted around 2,000 families from their ancestral land of 15 villages in Sahebganj-Bagda Sugar Mill area.

Also Read- Two Gaibandha Santals granted bail

Three Santal men died and at least 30 others were injured as they protested the eviction, carried out by the police and RAB members.
The local Bangalis, allegedly loyal to the local lawmaker, were invited to take part in the eviction through loudspeakers. They looted the houses before burning them to ashes. They also attacked the Santal houses the following day.
After the incident, the authorities filed a case against 42 named and 300-400 unnamed persons for barring the law enforcers from carrying out their duties.
Four people have been arrested in the case.
The evicted Santals have been staying under the open sky with limited access to water and foods. Many of them have fled their village to avoid arrest.
Some 150 families accepted government aid from an executive magistrate on Wednesday, five days after they rejected relief materials from the local UNO,
Abdul Hannan, who had allegedly ordered the police to open fire on the Santals.


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