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Watch: Police set fire to Santal houses in Gaibandha

  • Published at 11:25 am December 12th, 2016
  • Last updated at 06:34 am October 30th, 2017

A man sets fire to a Santal hut after policemen failed to light the blaze themselves YouTube

A video acquired by Bangla Tribune shows a platoon of armed policemen march towards an abandoned Santal village. The police kick down the doors, as if carrying out a raid on a militant den.

Finding the huts unoccupied, a handful of policemen proceeded to set fire to the houses. The villainous act was matched solely by the ineptitude shown by the police as they fumbled in lighting a fire.

One of the civilians accompanying the police then proceeds to set the house on fire, and within a matter of hours, the whole village is ablaze.

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 2000 families from their ancestral lands.

[caption id="attachment_31204" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]After being burned down and trampled, all that remains of this Madarpur home are the holes in the ground made for a stove Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune After being burned down and trampled, all that remains of this Madarpur home are the holes in the ground made for a stove Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune[/caption]

On November 6, a clash was reported between the police and Santal community in Gaibandha. A sizable number of trained law enforcers bearing firearms against Santals with bow and arrows guaranteed the Santals would have to relent.

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.

Santals lament they were deceived by the local lawmaker who promised them his support in securing their lands. The same lawmaker, they alleged, was involved in the attack that saw a small-scale invasion in the form of police, Rab, sugar mill workers, local Bangalis, and many more essentially expel the Santals from their lands.

In the wake of the initial conflict, 15 Santal villages in the Shahebganj-Bagda area were raided by police and sugar mill authorities with the support of local politicians. Police filed a case against 42 Santals arrested who were granted bail by the High Court.

[caption id="attachment_30813" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Law enforcement members patrol the area to prevent clashes, after the attacks ravaged the Santals   Mehedi Hasan Law enforcement members patrol the area to prevent clashes, after the attacks ravaged the Santals Mehedi Hasan [/caption]

Although many human rights organisations have pleaded for justice to be carried out and the Santals be returned to their lands, the scorched earth remains witness to the schools burnt down and the BGB patrols affirm the land is anyone’s but the Santals’.

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