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  • Last Update : 10:24 am

PBI charges 90 people over 2016 Santal killings in Gaibandha

  • Published at 05:03 am July 28th, 2019
Aftermath of attack on Santals in Gobindaganj upazila of Gaibandha on November 06, 2016 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Santals protest absence of  key accused in the charge sheet

The Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) pressed charges against 90 people in a case filed for an attack on the Santal community that took place two years and eight months ago and killed three Santal men in Gobindaganj, Gaibandha.

PBI’s Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mohammad Abdul Hai Sarker, confirmed to Dhaka Tribune that he submitted the charge sheet to Gobindaganj Judicial Magistrate Hakim Partha Bhadra's court around 10:30am yesterday.

Hai, also PBI Gaibandha unit in-charge, said: "In the final charge sheet, we brought charges against 90 people, including Sapmara Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Bulbul Ahmed Shakil, and UP members Shah Alam and Ayub Ali.”

The accused also include Rangpur Sugar Mill General Manager (finance) Nazmul Huda, and the mill’s Labour Union General Secretary, Mustafizur Rahman Dulal.

"So far, 25 people have been arrested in the case and one of them has confessed in court. All the arrested, however, are currently out on bail, while the remaining accused are still on the run," Hai said. 

Also Read - Gaibandha Santals besiege Rangpur DIG office

Nevertheless, more than 300 from the indigenous community of Madarpur rejected the charge sheet, saying it left out the names of a number of key accused persons, including former MP Abul Kalam Azad.

They blockaded the Gobindaganj-Dinajpur Road from 3pm yesterday and demonstrated, demanding inclusion of those left off  the charge sheet.

Sahebganj-Bagda Farm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee President Filimon Baske said they had evidence, including video footage, photos and witnesses, against the 33 people originally accused in the case.

“If their names are not included in the charge sheet, we will take legal action,” he said.

The protesters lifted the blockade after Gaibandha 4 MP, Md Monowar Hossain Chowdhury, went there and urged them, assuring that their demands would be met.

ASP Hai told reporters that their investigation did not find Azad’s involvement in the November 2016 incident.

On the 17th of July, this month, hundreds of Santals of Gaibandha also besieged the office of the deputy inspector general of police in Rangpur, demanding immediate submission of the charge sheet.

The case details and history

In 1962, the Rangpur Sugar Mill acquired 1,840 acres of land in 18 villages of the Santal community and some Bangali families, for sugarcane farming.

In 2015, the Santals and the local Bangalis started protests to get back the lands, saying mill authorities leased out the land for paddy and tobacco farming in violation of the acquisition contract.

In July 2016, some Santal families built houses, occupying some areas of the sugarcane farm.

On November 6 that year, sugar mill employees and police clashed with the Santals at various times over cutting of sugarcane and  land ownership.

Three Santal men were shot dead during the clashes, while over 25 others, including policemen, were injured.

Hundreds of Santal houses were looted and torched by people who were allegedly led by Nazmul Huda and Bulbul.

After the violent clashes, police and  sugar mill authorities cleared the land, evicting the Santals.

Ten days later, Swapan Murmu, on behalf of the Santal community, filed a case at Gobindaganj police station, accusing 600 unidentified people in the case.

Santhal Thomas Hembrom an aggrieved party, also filed another case in which 33 persons were named.

On November 26, 2016, Thomas Hemrom filed yet another case naming 33 people — including Azad and Bulbul — and some 500 to 600 unidentified others.

Subsequently, a local court ordered PBI to investigate the incident.

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