Santal take to the streets to demand the return of their land
by Sumon Corraya

The mostly Christian ethnic group has been the victim of decades of land grabbing that has left its members in dire poverty. Protesters also demand justice for three Santal killed by the police in 2016. Those responsible for their death have never been punished.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – More than a thousand ethnic Santal held a peaceful protest to demand the return of their land and justice for three Santal killed by the police.

Santal are mostly Christian, treated as "second-class citizens,” their lands seized for decades. “I know at least 2,500 Christian Santal who lost their land,” said Fr Samson Marandy, pastor at Mariampur parish, Katamor (northern Bangladesh)

“Their existence is inhuman: sleeping outdoor, without resources. The government should end this injustice. Aren’t Santals also citizens of this country?”

For Dr Philemon Basak, head of the Land Rescue Committee representing victims, the rally was an important signal.

“In the November 2016, the police killed three Santal who were peacefully protesting,” he said.  The culprits “have not yet been identified and punished”.

For this reason, “We will continue to demonstrate, even at the national level, until we have justice.”