Saturday, November 17, 2007

Goons ransack indigenous neighbourhood; Landless evicted in Tanore

Land-grab in Naogaon

A gang of criminals attacked an indigenous neighbourhood and injured at least 15 people and torched, looted and ransacked 19 houses in a bid to evict the inhabitants from the land at Uttar Kazipara of Patnitala upazila in Naogaon yesterday morning.

The gang of 50 equipped with sticks and machetes swooped on the indigenous families around 7:30am. Around 50 indigenous families used to live on the land.

The inhabitants initially tried to resist but had to fall back within minutes. The attackers then went on a rampage and set fire to several houses.

Police rushed there and arrested five people on the spot. They are union parishad member Helal Uddin, Lutfar Rahman, Azizar Rahman, Ruhul Amin Sagar and Motibul Islam.

The victims were seen weeping on their ravaged homestead. The district administration officials in the evening assured them of justice and return of their land within one week. M Shefaul Karim, deputy commissioner of Naogaon, visited the scene.

Among the injured Khoior, 45, Tara Ekka, 35, Shanti Ekka, 30, Sukormoni, 31 and Maloti, 30 were admitted to Sapahar Hospital with critical injuries and Shanti, 28 and Shuko, 36 were released after primary treatment.

Officer-in-charge of Patnitala Police Station Sakir Uddin said Subol Lakra on behalf of the victims lodged a case in this connection accusing 24 people including local influential person Idris Ali, his brother Shafiuddin and relative Moriam.

Officials of Karitas, an NGO, at Modhoil said Shanti, Rimon Toppo, Tara Ekka, Dulali, Maloti, Tara-2, Khukribala, Sukormoni, Gudhan, Shuko, Sokali, Rukni, Shanti Toppo, Surya, Rina, Poly, Chinta, Shukro Toppo and Shanti-3 are the heads of the houses that were damaged or destroyed.

Witnesses, police and sources said a large number of policemen were deployed at the place to avert further deterioration of law and order.

Sources said two pieces of government land of around 1.33 acres were leased to Idris Ali, Shafiuddin and Moriam in 1990 for 99 years.

The indigenous people resisted leasing out the land citing landless people's right on the land. The matter was taken to court and in 1993, and the indigenous people lost the legal battle.

However, the indigenous people started living on the land three months ago erecting thatched houses.

Convenor of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Union Rebeka Shoren and Joint-convenor Mongthenha Rakhain in a statement yesterday demanded immediate arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.

They also demanded compensation to the injured and their proper treatment.