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22 October, 2019 11:27:03 AM
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River-gypsies want rehabilitation

GOFRAN BISWAS, Patuakhali
River-gypsies want rehabilitation
This recent photo shows some boats belonging to the members of Manta community, a nomadic group, in Patuakhali. Inset, some children of the community who are born on boats and live there all through the life, lacking basic education, healthcare and other facilities. INDEPENDENT PHOTO

Rivers are life for members of the Manta community who wander along intricate waterways of the country without a set destination. They often move to and fro Kalapara, Galachipa, Rangabali, Bauphal, and Mahipur areas through waterways. They are also seen in sea estuaries and rivers in Patuakhali.

These people feel the call of waves in their blood. They do not own a piece of land. They catch fish and sell them to others. If they do not get any fish, they fast the whole day.

Their children grow up on the water. Deprived of any basic rights, they follow in the footsteps of their parents when they are seven to eight years old. Some of them have national ID cards and most do not.

According to sources, these people lost at least 50 boats during Cyclone Sidr. Though the government and the private sector provided relief to the victims of the supercyclone, members of the Manta community did not receive any benefit. They remain completely out of the social system and are deprived of education, healthcare, and other facilities.

Rokeya Begum (55), one of them, said once they lived in Kalaya village of Bauphal upazila. Hundred years ago, her parents built bases on the banks of the Buragauranga river of Charmontaj union. Since then, they have been living on the river. Her three sons help their father to catch fish.

Parujan Bibi, who lives in a small boat with six children, said they are very poor. She also sought the government's help for their rehabilitation.

BK

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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