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Authorities harvest paddy for evicted Santals

  • Published at 08:11 am November 24th, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:24 pm November 24th, 2016
Authorities harvest paddy for evicted Santals
The process began around noon with 12 combined harvester machines in presence of Deputy Commissioner Abdus Samad and other government officials. Until 5pm, the authorities harvested paddy from 2.5 acres or 1.01 hectares of land and handed over 26 sacks – each weighing 2 maunds – to the Santals. On November 17, the High Court ordered the sugar mill authorities and the local administration to either allow the Santals harvest their paddy or give it to the Santals after harvesting the paddy they had sowed. “We have found that the Santals sowed paddy in 18.41 hectares [45.50 acres], of which paddy of 12.14 hectares is suitable for harvesting. The rest of the paddy will be harvested after eight to ten days,” UNO Md Abdul Hannan said. “So we started the harvesting process in line with the High Court order,” he claimed. Additional police were deployed in the area since morning to avert any untoward incident. The Santals who were reluctant to accept the paddy in the morning finally took it from the mill authorities. The Santal community leaders earlier said that they had sowed paddy in 54.63 hectares of land. “We have given the paddy to a group of 17 Santals including Barna Bas Tudu, Anchhen Hembhram, Suren Tudu and Shushil Mardy after processing,” Rangpur Sugar Mill Managing Director Abdul Awal to the Dhaka Tribune. Barna Das, who is a member of the Santals’ organisation demanding their ancestral land back, said that they had taken approval of the committee members before accepting the paddy. The UNO claimed that they had asked the Santals to give a list of farmers and harvest the paddy with the help of the administration. But they did not respond. “We spoke to them this [yesterday] morning. But they gave two conditions – removing the fence around the sugarcane farm and withdrawal of the cases against the Santal community people,” Hannan said. “But this is not possible. These are matters of the mill authorities and the court.” Police filed at least three cases against the local Santals – the last one lodged after the November 6 eviction drive for obstructing the law enforcers from performing duties. Around 2,000 Santal families from 15 villages in the Shahebganj-Bagda farm area were evicted by the police and RAB on that day. Local Bangalis loyal to the local lawmaker also took part in the eviction drive, looting and torching the Santal houses. At least three Santals were killed and 30 others injured during the clashes. A Santal also filed a case against unnamed persons for the killings, loot and arson. So far, police have arrested 20 people in the case. Even though many evicted families have already left the area in search of new destination, some 150 families are still staying in tents and an abandoned school building in front of the Madarpur church. Two philanthropic organisations are giving them education and food.
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