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Santal House: Al Jazeera video shows arson in cop presence: Police deny allegation

Staff Correspondent.
Exclusive Al Jazeera footage appears to show police helping set fire to a Santal home in Gaibandha's Gobindaganj upazila.
In a 2:21-minute Al Jazeera video report, broadcast on December 11, a man in a pink T-shirt is seen trying to set a shanty on fire right in front of a group of armed policemen.
Later, a policeman in uniform and another man in a half-sleeve shirt and black pants are seen apparently joining the first man in the act. The shanty catches fire.
Although the Al Jazeera report does not mention the date when the footage was captured, it is thought to be of November 6 when law enforcers evicted Santals from a disputed land of Sahebganj-Bagda sugarcane farm which belongs to the Rangpur Sugar Mills in Gobindaganj.
Three Santal men were killed and four others were injured in clashes that day. Several Santal homes were burned down.
The Daily Star could not independently verify if the Al Jazeera footage was of any Gaibandha village or Santal home.
Several other videos have appeared in the social media where a policeman is seen throwing some liquid apparently at the same shanty before setting it afire. This newspaper could not verify any of them.
Contacted, police said they did not know who set the shanty on fire and that the Al Jazeera footage needed to be examined.
Ashraful Islam, superintendent of police in Gaibandha, said, “We have no such report, but we don't know from where Al Jazeera got the information after such a long time. It will be verified.”
Asked, Khandker Golam Faruq, deputy inspector general (Rangpur rage), said police did not set fire to any home.
He said police went to the villages in Gaibandha following a clash between Santals and Bangali settlers along with staff of Rangpur Sugar Mills over land dispute on November 6.
He claimed that the Santal houses in the villages were set afire by criminals, not police.
“Police are investigating the incident based on two cases filed by the Santals and police themselves. We will catch the criminals,” he said.
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