They are now the tenant of others in their homeland
Kamal Hossain, Khulna
The indigenous Munda community lives in three unions of Koyra Upazila in Khulna, adjacent to the Sundarbans. Their ancestors started living in this area by clearing forests and making land. At one time almost every family had enough land. But the powerful have taken possession of those lands by cunning. Many have sold land due to scarcity. Now most of the Munda families are either landless or have only a handful of settlements. A man who had a few bighas of land before. Now they have only at home. They make a living by cultivating other people’s fields or by doing daily wages. They are now the subjects of others in their native land, what was their own in the evolution of time.
An NGO called Initiative for Right View (IRV) has been working with the Munda community for a long time. Its executive director Marina Juthi said, the people Mundacommunity were brought to this region from the Jharkhand region of India about two and a half hundred years ago. They were employed to cut down the Sundarbans and build habitats. At present the population of 320 families of Munda community in Koyra is 1 thousand 530 people. 95 percent of these families are landless. Capitalizing on illiteracy, ignorance and scarcity, land grabbers have usurped their property. Major problems of the Munda community include food, livelihood, water and access to education. Stating that the people of Munda community are used to agricultural work, he further said that due to climate change, their opportunities are decreasing. For this, it is now necessary to find a sustainable alternative livelihood.
Sixty four year old Birinchi Munda a resident of Tepakhali village said that all of their 4 acre land has been fraudulently embezzled by the powerful. The dominants of Koyra also took land with 1kg rice and 2kg khud. Now we are not allowed to enter their house. They say that Mundas people need money to buy land! ‘
Tarapad Munda of the same area said that due to scarcity, if one pali (special measuring pot) of paddy was taken, moneylenders had to return two and a half pali of paddy later. In this way, if the amount of debt was high, the Mundas had to repay it with land.
Durgapad Munda, a resident of Nalpara village in Koyra Sadar, said, “Once I was the owner of 7 acre land. Now there is nothing but dwellings. He complained that they did not pay attention to the public representatives about the shortage.
The people of Munda community live in a few villages including 6 no Koyra 1 No. Koyra, Megher Ait, Nalpara, Nonadighi, Gazi Para, Jorshing, Angtihara, Batul Bazar, Katkata of Koyra Upazila.
President of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Khulna district branch Tapan Kumar Sardar said, Mundas living in Bangladesh are a neglected community. The influential have been trying to exploit them in various ways. The state tenancy act of 1950 prohibits the sale of land to tribal communities, but by changing their names and designations, they have been taken over by the influential circles of the area.
He sought the cooperation of the government to regain possession of the unoccupied lands and protect their lands in order to preserve the existence of tribal communities in the overall situation.
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