Santal man’s body found in rice field

Tapos Kanti Das | Published: 11:29, Nov 08,2016 | Updated: 01:00, Nov 09,2016

Gaibandha map

The image taken from a videos of Sunday’s attack on Santals at Gobindaganj of Gaibandha shows burning dwellings of Santals during the attack.— video grab

Mangal was picked and killed, five missing: Santals

Police said Tuesday that they recovered a Santal man’s body from a rice field adjacent to Rangpur Sugar Mill’s Shahebganj-Bagda Farm at Gabindaganj, Gaibandha, on Monday.
Body of Mangal Maddi, 50 was recovered one day after clashes broke out between the police and the Santal community over land ownership disputes.
Mangal’s death, who came from Dandupur, Ghoraghat, Dinajpur, raised the number of Santal casualties in the clashes with the police to two and at least five other Santals are still missing, said their community leaders.
Santals had built makeshift dwellings on land which they say belonged to their ancestors.
They said that the Pakistani authorities evicted them from their land without any compensation and acquired it for growing sugarcane for the Rangpur Sugar Mill.
The clashes broke out on Sunday as police arrived to evict the Santals from their makeshift accommodations.
Local Awami League men and workers of Rangpur Sugar Mill joined the police’s eviction drive.
Santals said as Santal males fled out of fear of the police, female members of their families were passing days in extreme anxiety and fear.
Gabindaganj police station,
officer-in-charge Subrata Kumar Sarkar told New Age that the police found Mangal’s body in a rice field adjacent to the sugar mill’s farmland Monday night.
‘We took his body Gaibandha Sadar Hospital where his post mortem examination was conducted Tuesday,’ he said.
He said that the post mortem report only would able to explain the cause of his death.
Santal community leader Filimon Hembrom told New Age that Mangal’s death was mysterious as no injury mark was visible on his body.
He also said a thumb of one hand of Mangal showed impression of ink.
He said the reason of the ink impression could be that he was caught ‘while fleeing with us’ and forced to give thumb impression and was killed for his refusal to comply.
Filimon said as no Santal was immediately called to identify Mangal which raised doubts about the conduct of the police.
He said that the OC informed the Santal community at 11.30 PM on Monday that a Santal man’s body was lying at Gaibandha Sadar Hospital.
He said that no Santal dared to go to the hospital on Monday night.
He said that Santal’s body was identified by fellow Santal people at 5 PM on Tuesday after the police brought his body to Jaypur village raising further suspicions about the conduct of the police.
Filimon said that the Santals felt that Mangal became a victim of pre-planned homicide.
He said that Mangal had no reason to stray into the rice field as he was fleeing ‘with us’ and must have been caught before he was done to death and his body was dumped in the rice field.
Jatiya Adibasi Parishad president Rabindranath Soren told New Age that Santal women, children and the elderly in Jaypur and Madarpur villages were passing their time amid extreme anxiety, fear and hardship as their male family members were on the run.
He blamed local union parishad chairman Bulbul Ahmed, a ruling party leader for the attack on the Santals.
He demanded immediate arrest of the attackers and bringing them to book.
Ain O Salish Kendra, Naripokkho and other rights organizations condemned the attack on Santals leaving two dead and several others injured.
On Sunday, about 1,500 families were evicted and their houses were set ablaze at Shahebganj-Bagda Farm of the sugar mill following clashes between police and the minority group that left Shyamol Hembrem dead and at least 20 others injured.
The attackers took away their cattle, corrugated
iron sheets used for roofing their makeshift dwellings, firewood during their eviction.
The Gobindaganj police on Sunday night filed a case against 42 identified and 300 to 400 unidentified men in connection with clashes.
Santal families from different parts of the country came to Rangpur Sugar Mill’s farmland and built makeshift dwellings to restore ownership in their ancestral land.
The Santal families said that the then Pakistan government forcibly acquired their land paying no compensation.
In 2015, the Santals formed Shahebganj-Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee under the leadership of Md Shakil Ahammad Bulbul, a local AL leader.
And soon afterwards they built makeshift dwellings there, they said.
Bulbul distanced himself from the Santals after he was elected union parishad chairman earlier this year.
His U-turn shocked the Santals.
Despite repeated efforts, Bulbul could not be reached for comments over mobile phone Tuesday.

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