Two indigenous villagers arrested by police in connection with false case filed by Bengali land grabbers in Tanore

On 17 April 2012 police from Tanore police station led by Sub-Inspector (SI) Masudur Rahman arrested three indigenous villagers from Boidyapur adivasi village under Tanore upazila in Rajshahi district. The arrested villagers are identified as Maniyel Tudu (19) s/o Sunil Tudu, Paramesh Hembram (22) s/o Supal Hembram and Filimon Mardi s/o late Shivlal Mardi.

It is learnt that at least 60 indigenous Santal families have been living at Boidyapur village under Tanore upazila. On 9 March 2012 Omar Faruque s/o Nur Mohammad and his gang suddenly entered the village and tried to evict indigenous families living on the homestead of late Shivlal Hembram aiming to occupy said land.

The land grabbers attacked 5 villagers including Chhalomi Hasda and Nirmal Hembram while indigenous villagers tried to prevent the miscreants from evicting indigenous villagers from their homesteads. Chhalomi Hasda and Nirmal Hembram were admitted at Tanore health complex with serious wounded. In regard to this attack, Francis Hembram of Boidyapur village filed a case against 17 Bengali land grabbers including Omar Faruque with Tanor police station on 12 March 2012 (case no. 12). But police did not arrest any perpetrator in this regard.

On the contrary, on 12 March 2012 Omar Faruque lodged a case (no. 11 dated 14/04/2012) with additional magistrate court of Rajshahi district against 12 indigenous villagers including Feran Mardi, Maniyel Tudu, Paramesh Hembram and Filimon Mardi falsely alleging that they were not vacating the land. Following this false case, police raided the village and arrested them on 17 May 2012 in the evening.

The Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, an indigenous peoples organisation working for the cause of indigenous peoples living at northwest region of Bangladesh, organised human chain and brought procession at Tanore upazila headquarters on 18 May 2012, protesting against arbitrary arrest of the innocent indigenous villagers, forcible land grabbing by Bengali influential group and filing false case against indigenous peoples by land grabbers.

Indigenous peoples alleged that vested groups of mainstream Bengali population have forcefully been occupying their lands. The miscreants frequently attacked indigenous villagers, lodged false case against them and harassed them by using police while indigenous villagers tried to oppose the miscreants. Police and local administration did not take any action against the attackers even case was filed against land grabbers. Indigenous leaders demanded immediate unconditional release of arrested indigenous villagers, withdrawal of false case filed against indigenous villagers and immediate stopping of land grabbing by the Bengali vested groups.

It is reported that the arrested indigenous villagers got release on bail in the evening of May 18th from the court.

It is mentionable that recently attack on indigenous villagers living in northwest region of the country has increased. The attacks were committed by mainstream Bengali population mainly with the intention to occupy lands of indigenous peoples. For instances-

On 13 February 2012 and 26 February 2012 land grabber Kamal Rabbi and his gang made attack on the house of Rameshwar Baske at Saguna Jiban Para of Pakri union under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi district. Again, on 28 February 2012 Kamal Rabbi and his gang set fire on Jamin Hasda’s house of same village.

On 16 March 2012 a land grabber named Rois Uddin and his son Rabiul Islam of Dumuriya village under Godagari upazila with the help of police led by SI Mahbubur Rahman from Premtali police outpost under Godagari police station tried to occupy 13 bighas of homestead of Jadu Roy Bhuiyan of Shiyala village of Matikata union under Godagari upazila.

In the year 2011 at least 111 houses of indigenous Jumma villagers were completely burnt to ashes in the CHT while 12 houses (6 houses each in the CHT and the plain lands) were looted and ransacked due to land-related communal conflicts. In addition, at least 146 Jumma families in the CHT were attacked by Bengali settlers while 19 indigenous families in the plain land were attacked. Besides, 21 indigenous persons including 1 from plain lands were assaulted while 3 indigenous persons (2 from CHT and 1 from plain lands) were brutally killed.

In plain lands around 2,000 indigenous families in 10 districts in the border regions in the northwest (Rajshahi-Dinajpur) have so far lost their 1,748 acres of ancestral land. On the other, during the 2009-2010, 216 families of indigenous peoples in plain lands have been attacked and their houses have been looted and destroyed by the influential groups of mainstream population with the intention to grab ancestral land of adivasis. In these attacks, 4 indigenous persons have been killed. Besides, 13 indigenous families have been evicted from their ancestral land and homesteads in 2009-10.