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Displaced Santals observe Borodin in sorrow

  • Published at 07:55 pm December 25th, 2016
Displaced Santals observe Borodin in sorrow
The Santals, who were evicted from the disputed land of Rangpur Sugar Mills in Sahebganj last month, could not enjoy the Christmas as they have no home as well as money. The indigenous people, who have taken shelter in nearby Madarpur and Joypurpara villages, observed the day by only praying – without any celebration. There were no new clothes for the Santal children, not even food for them on the day. The Santals gathered at the Madarpur Church and attended at a prayer around 9am. Children, women and men joined the prayer with Father Sebastian Tudu. Olivia Hembrom from Joypurpara village in the area said: “Every year we celebrate Borodin with joy. We organise different programmes to observe the day. But this year, our Borodin had gone with our burnt houses. The fire of eviction drives had burnt our Borodin to ashes.” Indigenous leader Paulus Murmu said: “Some 2,000 Santal families live in the area and this year they prayed to get back their rights on lands.” Rafael Hasda said: “To observe the day peacefully, we formed a volunteer team with Santal youths.” He also alleged that some locals tried to divide the Santals but their efforts went in vein. Santals are united to get back their rights on land, he said. Runa Akter, a Madarpur resident, said: “Santals generally celebrate Borodin with festivities. They colour their homes, decorate the church and their houses. Santal children are seen waiting for Santa Claus for gifts where Santal men are seen very busy on the day. “But this year, there was nothing … They just observed the day by praying without any carnival.” Barnabas Tudu, head of a Santals community, alleged that the indigenous people are still suffering from lack of food and daily needs. They are afraid of returning to their homes. Their lives depend on relief. Officer-in-Charge of Gaibandha police station Subrata Kumar Sarkar said: “To ensure proper security during Borodin celebrations, we tightened the security in Madarpur and Joypurpara for the Santals.” Earlier, on November 6, a clash erupted between the police and Santals in Gaibandha during an eviction drive. A sizeable number of trained law enforcers bearing firearms against Santals with bow and arrows guaranteed the Santals would have to relent. The police and their civilian cohorts strolled nonchalantly amid the burning huts – an honest-to-God implementation of “scorched earth” policy – as part of a clash that has since killed three Santal men and displaced 2,000 families from their ancestral lands. The reason behind the conflict was revealed to be eviction of the Santals when they attempted to reclaim their lands granted to the Rangpur Sugar Mill which the Santals alleged the sugar mill reneged on the contract.
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