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The Financial Express

Living in a multi-ethnic land

| Updated: September 23, 2022 22:05:32


Living in a multi-ethnic land

Although the activists untiringly uphold the country's plain-land indigenous communities' rights, their lot hasn't shown any sign of improvement. Instead, their living standard and other indicators continuously demonstrate these people's nonstop decline. Due to their being poverty-stricken, and victims of social and economic marginalisation and other discriminations, many of the country's indigenous people find themselves being on the verge of extinction. Perhaps, due to these reasons the Bangladesh indigenous communities are fast losing their voice. A sense of helplessness has gripped them. This prompts these once socially and prominently visible communities to take recourse to a cocoon of sorts. It's only when they find their backs to the wall, they shake off their passivity --- and try to resist the unjust treatments meted out to them. In most cases, they have to concede defeat.

However, in times of their distress people with conscience used to come forward to stand by them. This has been seen in the land since long. But petty mundane interests kill the virtues once extolled. Thus people caring about the indigenous communities cannot realise how the insidious moral rot has been corrupting them. At one point of time, the indigenous communities scattered around the country found themselves left in the lurch. Thus encroachment on the farmlands of the poor Santal, Oraon or Munda communities goes on without strong resistance. What's worse, the unscrupulous elements behind these grabbing spreedo not remain confined to encroaching on the legitimately owned lands of the indigenous people. The face-off between the influential locals and the indigenous people continues to turn bitter. Few have thought that in course of time, these hostilities will end up being bloodied. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has been routinely occurring in different parts of the country over the decades.

The weird part of the fierce brawls is the resisting indigenous people are singled out as instigators behind deadly frontal confrontations. The periodic killings of the indigenous protestors by the lackeys of local honchos these days are a normal occurrence. Law enforcers intervene, cases are filed, and a temporary truce is in place. Meanwhile, arrest warrants are issued against scores of people, mostly indigenous people, leading them to opt for the lives of fugitives. With the agricultural lands remaining uncultivated, and, eventually barren, the indigenous fugitive farmers' families go panicky and starving. These impasses have hardly seen a permanent solution.

The plain-land indigenous population is different in socio-cultural rituals from the larger segment living in the hills in the country's southeastern and northeastern regions. In terms of educational achievements and social attainments, the southeastern region has been on the path to progress for over two decades. The path, however, is strewn with thorns unique to the areas and its inhabitants. With the impediments removed, non-partisan policymakers predict a bright future for the area. Compared to this region, the coming days of the plain-land indigenous people of the country appear to be thrust into a benighted future. There are 54 indigenous communities in the country at present, speaking 35 languages and their dialects. Of the total indigenous peoples, the Santals, the Mundas, the Oraons --- and the Garos and the Hajongs, feel proud of their literacy rate.

The Garo language being a Sino-Tibetan tongue, is spoken in large parts of the Indian state of Meghalaya and also in some areas of Tripura and Assam. It's widely spoken in greater Netrakona and Jamalpur districts. The freedom-loving and once indomitable people, Santals are recognised as the first indigenous community entering Bangladesh centuries ago. Whatever the injustices being done to the indigenous communities, the nation needs them to keep alive its multi-ethnicity. The Bengalees, in essence, are peace-loving. They have embraced all races who have set foot on their soil during their evolution as a perfect nation. This achievement cannot be undone.

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