HC wants Gaibandha administration to file report on Santal rehabilitation

The High Court wants to be informed of the measures taken to rehabilitate the Santals evicted from the disputed land of sugar mill in Gaibandha's Gobindaganj Upazila.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 15 Feb 2017, 09:49 AM
Updated : 15 Feb 2017, 11:00 AM

The chiefs of the district and Upazila administrations have been ordered to submit a report within 30 days.

The bench of justices Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Mohammad Ullah gave the order on Wednesday after hearing a petition.

It also issued a rule asking why it would not order for measures to rehabilitate the evicted Santals.

Secretaries to the land and social welfare ministries, Gaibandha's deputy commissioner and superintendent of police have been told to come up with explanations by two weeks.

In 1962, the Rangpur Sugar Mill authority acquired 1840.30 acres of land from Santals and Bengalis in 18 villages for sugarcane farming in Gaibandha's Gobindaganj Upazila.

Santals claim the sugar mill has used the land to grow rice and tobacco, in violation of the agreement, and they have occupied the land and launched protests.

Last year, Santals built several hundred houses on the disputed land and began living there.

Clashes broke out on Nov 6 after the sugar mill authorities attempted to reclaim the land. Santal homes were looted during the clashes.

After some homes were burnt down, tractors levelled the ground on orders from the sugar mill authorities.

Police opened fire at one point during the clashes. Three Santal residents were killed in the firing and many others were wounded.

On Dec 7, Supreme Court lawyer Suprakash Dutta served the mill authorities with a legal notice blaming them for tempering crime scene evidence.

Dutta filed a petition with the High Court failing to get the mill authorities' response.

After an initial hearing, the court issued a rule on Jan 8 this year pulling up the sugar mill authorities.

On Wednesday, the High Court held a hearing over the mill authorities' response to the rule, when it ordered the local administration to file report on rehabilitation efforts for Santals.

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Editor-in-Chief and Publisher