09/07/2023, 12.31
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Probhat Tudu, becomes first ethnic Santal Supreme Court lawyer

by Sumon Corraya

A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, he passed the bar last month. Until now he had worked in smaller courts, including the one in the capital Dhaka, to help the neediest in his community attain justice. He tells AsiaNews: 'I hope that more and more young Santal will take up this career.’

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Christian Probhat Tudu has become the first ethnic Santal lawyer in Bangladesh's Supreme Court, after passing the bar examination last month.

Tudu, 38, was born in Chapainawabganj, Northern Bangladesh, and the seventh child of a teacher and housewife. He obtained a law degree from Notre Dame College in Dhaka, a university run by the Catholic Church, and then completed his studies in a private institution. A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Northern Bangladesh, since 2018 he has worked in minor courts, including that of the capital.

He told AsiaNews that he has always had a passion for working for the least and for those who have the opportunity to make their voices heard.

 “Being needy and a minority, people in our Santal community are often persecuted by the majority. They have land rights issues. I already work for them as a lawyer, but now in the Supreme Court, I hope I can contribute more for them."

The Santals are an indigenous population originating from northern Bangladesh, where, with a population of about 126 thousand people, they form the largest ethnic minority in the country.

70% are Christians, and nowadays several tribes are also concentrated in the Indian states of Jharkhand and West Bengal.

After two sisters who had gone to collect rice were kidnapped by some Muslims in December last year, Tudu intervened to seek justice alongside the local parish priest, Fr. Belisario Ciro Montoya, Colombian fidei donum priest associated with PIME.

Rumila Mardi, 14, and her little sister Maria, 4, who had not returned to their village of Phulbaroiya Baghdanga, Chandpukur Naogaon, were found after a month.

Tudu also took legal action in a land dispute between the police and the Santal community at the Rangpur sugar mill in Gobindaganj upazila (an administrative sub-unit) in Gaibandha district, an issue first surfaced in November 2016 after the police had attacked the local Christian community.

Today he also works as a Christian leader: he is in charge of communication and publication of the Bangladesh Christian Lawyers' Association and is general secretary of the Uttorbango Adipashi Forum, an organization of northern indigenous tribes.

His hope is that more and more young Santals will embark on a career as a lawyer: “If we get more Santal lawyers together we can claim our rights. I will work for free for needy Christians who go to court to get justice,” he said.

Tudu, in addition to being the first santal lawyer of the Supreme Court, is only the fifth lawyer of his ethnicity in all of Bangladesh.

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