Pirgacha Bethany Ashram

Dear All:
I am pastor of St. Paul’s Parish under the Diocese of Mymensingh here in Bangladesh. We have a small clinic with 20 beds where we do deliveries, snake bites and treat general patients. There are two Senior Nurses, one Junior Nurse, mid-wife. The nurses are all registered with the Bangladesh government and have many years experience treating patients and delivering babies of all faiths. Many pregnant, unmarried girls come and they face death in the homes if they become pregnant. Stephen Chambugong, trained by the Jalchatra Leprosy Program under the Damien Foundation is in charge of the clinic. Last year we treated over 350 snake bites, had many deliveries and treated many sick people.
            Boston England financed the clinic for 40 years but the ladies say they are too old to keep up the financing of the project. Last year we treated over 4000 patients, mostly pregnant women, snake bites, rabies, and various tropical sicknesses. We have a lot of kalazar, malaria, and many tropical diseases that we treat. Last year we had 32 kalazar patients in Pirgacha. The midwives are trained in three different nursing schools: Baptist, Hindu and Anglican.
Herewith is the budget for one year to run the Bethany Ashram clinic:
TK.    300,000.00: Medicine and food
            30,000.00: Caesarians and doctor referrals
          400,000.00: Staff pay
            50,000.00: Travel to doctors and villages
TK. 780,000.00  US $10,000 per annum (One US$ is about Taka 78 now).
This is a good project and saves many lives and stops much suffering for the poor Muslim, Hindu and Tribals. St. Paul’s Parish is under the Mymensingh Diocese. The Parish is Garo Tribal (Tibeto-Burmese), Muslims and Hindu all use the clinic.

Fund can be sent  to the Director, Holy Cross Mission Center; P.O. Box 543; Notre Dame, Indiana 46556-0543 for Pirgacha mission. E-mail:hcmc@nd.edu


Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC
Pastor, St. Paul’s Chuch,  Mobile Phone: 01713003523
Dist. Tangail, 1996, Bangladesh.

Pirgacha Mission

Saint Paul’s Church, Pirgacha
Post office: Pirgacha
Upazilla: Madhupur
District: Tangail.
Post Code No. : 1996

Parish Priest: Rev. Fr.  Eugene E. Homrich, CSC
Assistant Parish Priest: Rev. Fr. Donel Cruze, CSC

E-mail address: Pirgacha@bdcom.com
Mobile No.: 01713003523



For centuries the Aboriginal Tribals (Garo) of Madhupur Jungle in the Tangail District of Bangladesh have lived in this "Sal" forest with their own religion, culture, and way of life. This culture and way of life is distinct from the majority community of Muslim/Hindu Bengali. Garo music and religion is pre-Buddhist and originated in southwest China and Western Tibet. The Garo language contains many Mandarin and Burmese words. Their system of cultivation was the shifting ‘slash & burn’ method, which allowed the forest to regenerate after three years of cultivation. Their cropping patterns and crops are those common to the hill people of SE Asia. ‘Slash & burn’ cultivation stopped with the takeover of the private forests by the British Colonial Government of India in 1927.
When the British granted land holdings to the Zamindars, the Madhupur Tract and its people came under the Raja of Natore and other Rajas who dedicated the forest to the god Gobinda under the title Debittor or a "gift to the gods". The Garos were allowed to live in the fertile lowlands under registered homestead plots, paying a yearly rent or tax. These lowlands were registered in individual tenants’ names, usually the woman of the family. This area was registered in 1892 and again in the Cadastral survey of 1914-1918. By an exception of the law, certain Aboriginal Tribes enumerated in the Bengal Tenancy Act were exempt from the Succession Act of 1865, No.940. This exemption recognizes the Garo Law of Succession and Inheritance. This law was updated as an Act of Law in 1925 and again in modern Indian law. Further, by an Act of Law, Bangladesh recognized all previous laws in 1972, at independence. One point to remember is that the Garo Tribe is matrilineal and Mongolian. All real property belongs to the women’s lineage and not to individuals. The men in the Tribe can act as administrators with permission of the wife or her lineage. There is no such thing as personal property and all property belongs to the machong or "motherhood".
In 1878 the Garos recorded their lowlands, along with some of the high land in the Madhupur Jungle. Much of their land is still recorded under the Bengal Tenancy Act during the time of the Zamindars. In 1984, by Gazette Notification, much of this land was put into Government Forest Land category without notification to the tenants. When this was challenged in the Courts and the Land Settlement Office, no opportunity was given to produce the existing documents. The Bangladesh Government refused to recognize tenancy rights and refuses to accept taxes on this land, saying that all documentation is false. Successive governments have issued eviction notices for the Tribals and posed false cases under the Revised Forest Act. These cases have been started with the purpose of evicting the Garos from their traditional lands. The Tribals are invisible when it comes to their land rights. Over the years their lands have been listed as government lands for the purpose of planting rubber, woodlot for firewood, bombing sites, and at one time the Tea Board wanted to remove the entire Garo population to the Tea Gardens and make coolies of them.
Today, the majority of Garos in the Madhupur Jungle are Christians. The first conversion work was done by the Australian Baptists in 1893. They celebrated the Centenary of the Malajani Circuit in 1993. Today, the Catholics number around 14,000 with the parishes of Jalchatra and Pirgacha. St. Paul’s Church/Pirgacha is situated in the heart of the jungle and was separated from Jalchatra by Bishop Francis Gomes in 1993. This is under the Diocese of Mymensingh now, but was originally under the Archdiocese of Dhaka. The first baptism to Catholicism took place under Bishop Crawley, CSC and Fr. Switalski, CSC in 1928. The present Primary School in Pirgacha was established in 1928 on the banks of the Mogul Pond; the mud foundation can still be seen there. I established the present Corpus Christi Parish in Jalchatra under Archbishop Garner, CSC in 1960 during the superiorship of Fr. Robert McKee, CSC, breaking away from Mymensingh Parish. The Catholic population grew rapidly due to conversions and a high birth rate of about 3.5%. Lay catechists and Integral Human Development with all Garos (they prefer the name Mandi or "the people") and the Hindu Koch explains the high conversion rate. They are marginalized in society and under constant pressure from the government to get out of both the Madhupur Forest and the country. As recent as October 29, 1996, the Government tried to take all Garo land and put 16,000 residents in Cluster villages. Money came from the World Bank to establish 13 National Parks, this being one of them. Dr. Emilio Rozario, a Filipino, came with the Forest Officers to announce the take over. I wrote Kaiser Chowdhury (MP) and put a stop to the planning.
This area of the Mandi population is called Abima or ‘motherland’ and no one knows when the Mandis came here. In their migration from Tibet and southern China, they have wandered all over the face of the earth and their language and culture have traces of Mandarin, Burmese, Bodo-Kachari, Khmer, Hindi or Sanskrit, Persian, etc. Needless to say, the Mandis as a race are very adoptive to new situations, religions, cultures, and environments. According to some theories they are Atharbascan, the same people as can be found in Alaska, Western Canada, and the American Southwest, known as the Dene, Apachi, and Navajo tribes. Closer to home we find them listed as Bodo-Kachari and belonging to 240 different Tibeto-Burmese tribal groups. These tribes have different but related languages, cultures, primitive religions, and are mostly pre-Buddhist. The tribes in question are mostly patriarchal, Mongolian, and have slash and burn agriculture. The Mandis are matrilineal and mostly Hill people. Their culture and traditional way of life is very different from lowland cultivators. At one time the Thai empire extended from Bangkok to Gowhati, so the mixture of races and cultures is amazing. We are not talking about political boundaries but cultural differences when we analyze the Tribals in SW China, Bhutan, Sikkhim, NE India, Nepal, Thailand, Burma, and Bangladesh.
The Mandis of Madhupur Jungle are mostly ‘Abeng’ or ‘Kochu’. There are also Koch Hindus. All together there are 12 distinct sub tribes among the Mandis. All are Tibeto-Burmese except the Migam or Lingam who are Mon-Khmer and related to the Khasis of Meghalaya in India. In Bangladesh we find the Atong, Kochu, Abeng, Chibok, Brack, Ruga, Megam, Matchi, Dual, Chisak, Metabeng, and various combinations of these sub tribes. The common language in Bangladesh is Abeng but most of the people along the border of India understand ‘Acchik’ which is the literate language in India and the language of TV.
Mandi culture is very ancient based on customary laws and religion. Every rite of passage is codified and understood by the society from conception to the reincarnation of the "mi-mang" or disembodied soul after a hazardous trip to Balpakra (valley of death) and to Chipmang (the sacred mountain) in Meghalaya. After cremation, the crematory area is smoothed out with wet clay. The next morning the spot is divined to see what the soul has become by any marks found there. The best reincarnation is to return to your own machong or "motherhood". The Mandi religion is very pervasive and affects all rites of passage. It is a beautiful religion with high moral codes of conduct. ‘Saljong’, the Sun god, is the Creator and the harvest feast or "Wangala" is in his honor in October, or after the hill rice is harvested. ‘Susime’ the moon goddess is like Luxsmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and sacrifices always include placating them along with Goera, Churabdi, Tatara, Nok Miti, etc.
Pirgacha Parish is large and the Parish Plan is based on Integral Human Development. This covers the actual and felt needs of our Christian life in the Madhupur Jungle of Bangladesh.
At present, Pirgacha has 32 villages and Jalchatra, 25. Pirgacha Mission has over 8,813 Catholics and 1500 Garos who practice their traditional religion or belong to other Christian denominations. We have 18 Primary Schools educating 1700 Tribal children. Two of these schools are BRAC model schools with non-formal education. Kindergarten, "American style", is started from the age of four and the High School has 650 students. Computer science has been introduced to Class Nine. The students go from bamboo age to the computer age in Class Nine without any mental shock.
Fifty lay teacher-catechists, mostly women, run the primary schools and village churches. Twelve teachers staff the High School. The Parish is really run by the laity. The teacher-catechists are highly motivated in running the Catholic Church and their own lives. All the teachers have PTI Certificates from training in the National Training Center run by the Xavierian Fathers in Jessore. Integral Human Development based on education in all aspects of man’s needs has transformed a traditional Mandi society into a Christian society based on the justice and faith closely integrated into Mandi society. The real charisma of Holy Cross Mission work has been education, not brick and mortar missionary activity. When I came to Jalchatra the highest qualified teacher was class 5. Today, the literacy rate is over 90% with many college graduates.
Even though the Mandis are Christian, their cultural values are still distinctive. Cultural values include community, joy, peace, celebration of life, honesty, and living in the presence of God. They have a super-Conscience which is symbolized by the eye of God symbol on women’s clothing, their baskets, drums, and gongs. The conscience is called dakmalja and they live in the presence of God who sees all and rewards or punishes us according to the way we obey the Tribal Laws. Their beautiful drums are the gods speaking to us. The beat varies according to the occasion for announcing birth, marriage, death and cremation, planting, harvesting, house building and blessing a new house, or the coming of a guest when all drink the mi chu or rice wine. The Mandis celebrate often and at the drop of a hat. The ancestors are remembered and invited to each celebration. Every house has the Kima or memorial post to remember the ancestors. Close bonds of lineage are the determining factors in all relations in the tribe. Asking your machong or lineage establishes immediate relationships. Storytelling relates oral history and useful knowledge of the ancestors and history of the tribe, as well as providing good entertainment.
In 1959 I was officially adopted into the Mandi Tribe by the Nokrek machong. As a member of the "Waksu" Nokrek machong, our story goes like this:
A Nokrek village was attacked by an enemy. Only one pregnant Nokrek woman was saved by hiding in a pig sty. Therefore her descendants are known as "Waksu Nokrek". I have many relatives who are concerned with my life and regulation of my existence prior to my birth, education, marriage, and punishment if I do not follow the Tribal laws. My "sisters" look after me and determine my wealth and health and even see to the death rituals which help determine my future existence. This is an avuncular society where the mother’s brother has more power over the child than the father. Even the British, Pakistani, and now Bangladesh Government recognize these customary laws.
State of Affairs
This brings us to the precarious situation of the Madhupur Mandis. Bangladesh took loans from the Asia Development Bank (ADB) to reforest the denuded jungle. By Gazette Notification, most of the Tribal lands have been put into the ‘Forest Land’ category. Recently the Forest Department started planting trees in Mandi rice fields that are registered under the Revenue Department in Pirgacha and Arunkhola areas. When the people objected the local Range Officer said that the Forest Department does not recognize the Revenue Department’s registration. ADB has explicitly stated that no cultivated Garo lands are to be reforested and all reforestation must be participatory. The lands have been taken by force, both legal and physical. Instead of agro forestry, the Forest Dept. is planting "woodlots" for firewood with exotic Australian species. Eucalyptus Camaldalensus grows quickly and destroys the soil and environment, according to forest experts. Native species of flora and fauna are all but wiped out along with a huge variety of medicinal and useful plants. Forceful use of occupied and cultivated tribal lands has been condemned by the ADB according to terms of the agreement. Still, crops have been destroyed, false cases crushing the poor are started, guns, tear gas, and the new Revised Forest Act has been misused to destroy the rights of the people. Open corruption of the Forest Department and high officials goes unpunished. No appeal for justice is possible under the present system.
A whole ecosystem has been destroyed in the name of reforestation. Rare species of medicinal plants, leopard, golden langur, birds, both local and migratory are gone or endangered. Agro-forestry so badly needed in Bangladesh has created a corrupt system that is destroying the forest and its inhabitants. Participatory reforestation by the public is necessary but no one wants to suffer more at the hands of the Forest Department or courts.
The society is changing. They have the Christian faith and are willing to fight for justice by non-violent means. Justice and Peace efforts by the Church have protected the Mandis against the constant pressure of the government to abandon the forest lands. The Christian faith has liberated them from these unjust structures. Education and training is needed so they can be truly free. The Christian faith has united them, but urbanization, materialism, and secularism are destroying cultural values and changing their society. For the Tribal, every person has value and dignity. This freedom makes for genuine growth in the Christian life. It is time for us to analyze and suggest some possible solutions to the problems we face in the Abima or "motherland" area of the Mandis. Why are we being absorbed and our cultural values destroyed by the majority community? Our cultural values are precious to us and are a gift to the Churches. In God’s garden there are many beautiful flowers.
One problem is language. We have our own language and it should be taught in school. Through the use of Garo evangelists, primary schools, and boardings, Christianity took hold in the hearts of the Mandis. It is estimated that there are now 500,000 Christian Mandis in India and Bangladesh. Because of education we received from the Mission, we are a dynamic force in these two countries. We need better schools and boardings. More professional and technical education is necessary.
Economic emancipation requires industrialization, social discipline, skills training, family adjustment, and integrity in the Mandi Community. Forest land will always be a source of contention in Bangladesh. Wage earners no longer depend on the forest or its support system. Cultural values natural to the Mandi clash with the major ethnic groups in Bangladesh. Because our Mandis are simple, honest, and open, they are often victims of injustice, cruelty, and cheating. We Christian Tribals are now the majority of the Christian community but do not get our share of personnel or have an equivalent share in the economic and leadership roles or development projects in either the secular or religious communities. We should have subsidized educational opportunities in the Primary, High School, and College levels. Through their reforestation project, the Government has impoverished our people with their land grabbing, false cases, and violation of human rights’.
As in Choto Nagpur and Ranchi, the Church has espoused the cause of justice, peace, and human rights’, along with Integral Human Development. ADB loans to Bangladesh are wiping out the native forests. In destroying the forests, the Government is not only destroying native species; it is destroying the culture and religious values of forest dwellers. The Bangladesh Government’s effort to take over our ancestral lands with our sacred burial places and cultivated lands is crushing a helpless people. We demand justice and peace on our ancestral lands. These demands are not unjust or unreasonable. Our Christian faith demands freedom for us and our posterity in Bangladesh. We are free and demand the freedom of the children of God…in the Madhupur Jungle…Abima or "motherland".
The Forest Department started a wall around many Mandi rice fields and told the Mandis they intend to build an ‘Ecopark’. 28 acres of rice paddy belonging to Gaira village is included in this plan. The whole Mandi community is upset by this plan to take tribal lands by force. Where will the persecution stop? The Forest Minister said the Garos in Madhupur are illegally living here. Such ignorance is a violation of international law. Recent shooting and killing in Jalabada of Piren Snal has again upset the whole Garo community. One death and 25 wounded by irresponsible forest guards on a peaceful demonstration has given Bangladesh a very bad reputation in the field of human rights. We have had four eviction notices but President Zia in Mymensingh town Hall promised that the Garos would never be evicted from the Madhupur Forest in a meeting on Feb. 14, 1975.
On October 18, 2007 Cholesh Ritchil and Protap Jambil were arrested by Major Toufiq Elahi and other BD Army personal in Kalibari Bazar. They were take to their Kakraid Farm Camp and tortured terribly. Protap was treated in Madhupur Hospital and dumped in his home village of Magontinagor at night. Cholesh was tortured terribly; his whole body had black and blue bruises, his anus was burned with a hot rod, his eyes were plucked out and he was castrated. His body was sent to the Madhupur Hospital but he was declared dead from high blood pressure and a heart attack. His body was examined in his home and washed with "chu" or rice wine before burial by his women relatives. His whole body was tortured and he died as a result of the torture by the BD Army brutality.
The Forest Department is again trying to take over Tribal lands for "Social Forestry". Many signed the contracts and watched over the trees and plantations for years. The Forest Department sold the trees at night and started false cases against the Mandis. No one wants to sign such contracts because of the terrible corruption by the Forest Department. Day and night they are selling the forest trees and starting false cases against the public. One 2 ½ year old child had a false case filed against him. Wherever there is a Forest Department there is no forest in Bangladesh and the public are real victims because of the Forest Department and false cases.
Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC
Pastor, St. Paul’s Church
P.O. Pirgacha 1996
Dt. Tangail
September 8, 2015


Sheik Mujibur and the Awami League declared a non-violent protest throughout East Pakistan. He had won the Pakistan election but the Pakistan government refused to recognize the Awami League government. Yahya Khan and Sheik Mujibur held a meeting in Dhaka on March 15. On March 15, 1971 increased violence in Dhaka and Awami League declare independence. Many people killed by the Pak Army in Dhaka. The Jalchata staff in the Leprosarium go to Dhaka and their jeep was fired on near the Cantonment.. E.P.R. and Pakistani fight in Mymensingh and Joydapur Cantonments. On March 29th Pakistani, Bengali E.P.R. take over the Jalchatra Mission. People walking from Dhaka and describe the terrible slaughter of civilians by the Pak Army. April 1st British Nationals leave the country. Awami League students training in Mutagacha. Fr. Mario, SX shot in Jessore on April 4th. Students attack the Joloi Air Force Camp and kill the Pakistan Air Force officers. On April 5, Kosru, Major Sufiulla, Kushru and Samat take over Jalchatra Mission with Muktis. On April 11, Easter Sunday two Pak police executed in Chunia by the Muktis.
April 12, US Council comes by jeep from Dhaka and orders all US citizens to leave. We say no. April 13, 14 Pak Army attack Madhupur Bazar burning and looting. They take refuge in the fertilizer godown and are all killed. On April 14th the Indian Army officers, Captains Baljit Singh and Captain Negi come to the Mission and take the muktis to India. April 15, gun firing in Madhupur and all flee the area. Major Saidulla takes over the Jalchatra Mission camp and goes to India with the Muktis. April 18th, Pak Army in Madhupur. Amulla Noegi’s chokidar shot. Amulla takes refuge in various baris and eventually in the Mission. Terrible slaughter of Biharis in Mymensingh. April 19th Madhupur Bazar leveled by gun fire.
April 23, 1971. Fr. Tripi and Fr. Homrich return to the Mission from the Hospital. At 8:30 PM the Mission is hit with 12, 3 ½ inch mortars from Rasulpur. April 24th the Army attacked the mission.
April 24 the Pak Army attacked the mission and burned the thatch school. They machine gunned the hospital but the patients were hiding in the rice fields. Patients that hadn’t walked for 20 years ran and hid in the rice paddy. April 25, I moved back to the Mission. Real quiet and all the villagers were gone. April 15th Siraj Islam and Fallu of Kakraid destroy the little Mandi Hindu temple in Jalchtra and Hakim Mullavi read the Koran on the ruins in Jalchatra. June 8. Sr. Emmanuel killed in Baromari when her jeep ran over a mine. I drove up there and ran over another mine that didn’t explode. Fr. Gillespe, CSC stayed in Baromari. July 10, Mulukbari looted and Dorgacholla Mandis come North with their cattle. Bilpar looted. About July 15, 2001 Peter Kann of the Wall Street Journal and Lee Lescos of the Washington Post meet out Mukti commander, Rafazuddin in Jonil Hagidok’s Bari in Beduria. We drove through the Pak Army but they didn’t try to stop us. Peter got the Pultizer Prize for his writing and courage. Our Mukti commander, Rafazuddin protected our area courageously.
July 22, 1971. Bilpar, Dorgacholla looted. Pak Army goes to Beduria, Pirgacha and Thanarbaid. They shot Odor Rema in Pirgacha, Gojen Pal and Fr. Timothy’s father Modon Mri in Thanarbaid. Tangail DC and SP called a meeting in Rusulpur with Fr. Homrich, CSC and 43 Mandi leaders. Brigadier Asadulla said he was going to shoot us. I told him: "no objection" but I’d like to know where he was trained. He said in the US Army in New Jersey. I said the newspaper would have: "American trained Brigadier shoots American priest." He told us to go home but the Pak Army burned a Hindu village in Payijan and shot two Mandai women. August 1, 1971: many Hindus being hunted and killed in Muktagacha. 15 being held and tortured.
Aug. 3, 11 Hindu bodies counted in the river. 90 Hindu girls here in the Mission and all learned the prayers and said they were Christian. No one was converted but all had
Christian names when the Pak Army came. Aug.5: Gun battle in Kakraid and the bridge in Kakraid blown by the Indian Army and "Muktis". The bridges in Bortolla and Lengura also blown on the Mymensingh road. Eight men beaten up in Kakraid and I treated them in the dispensary. Podabari and other villages burnt and public shot near Chechua. 235 Muslim women and babies shot in Mainkun near Chechua Muluvi Salam and his father said the village was feeding the Muktis. They would not let us bury the bodies.
Aug. 7. road to Mymensingh open again but Bilpar burnt to the ground and Mandis take refuge in Moraid, Shapmara and Idilpur. August 12. A lot of shooting around Dorgacholla and 200 Mandis come to Idilpur. Fr. Tripi tried to go to Dorgacholla but too much shooting and burning by the Pak Army and rajakars. Aug. 18th. 18 Mandi girls take refuge at the Mission. Dr.Sudunkshu of Chapri Bazar beaten to death. Three Muslim girls raped by the Pak Army in Dorgacholla. August 27th...many Hindus made Muslim and their girls raped by the Pak Army near Donbari. August 28. Two Tumelia Sisters Cecelia and Dutta take over the hospital. August 29 Garo girls coming to the Mission from Nalikhali and North Bagra. Sept. 22. Pak Army opens a "Mujait" camp at Dokhola. Mandi girls raped in Gaira by the devils. Sonaram of Malajani arrested with his wife and Kalu. They were taken to Muktagacha and tortured. Fr. Homrich tried to get them freed but they were not released until I went to Mymensingh and the Brigadier freed them. Rajakars force Mandi boys to join them but the boys fled.Oct. 18th Two Mandai pregnant women raped by rajakars in Amlitola.
Sisters Francelia and Bruno, CSC return on Oct. 31. Nov. 15th, we move 83 girls to the hospital for safe keeping. Nov. 7. Hindu families from Muktagacha flee to Jalchatra as the Muktis fighting Pak Army and burning the jute godowns. One Hindu woman, Santi, bayoneted five times in the neck and her husband killed in Muktagacha.
News received about the death of Fr. Bill Evans, CSC on Nov. 13th . He was shot by the Pak Army in Nowabganj on the way to Boxnagore. He came to the country 24 years before and worked in Garo land.
Dec. 11. Indian Army fighting in Jamalpur. They capture the town along with Mymensingh Town. The Pak Army drove by the Mission on the way to Dhaka but were shot by Kader Siddique and Muktees. Pak Army fled from Jamalpur and were hiding in a ditch in front of the hospital. They fled when the Muktis flushed them out. We are liberated by Captain Balgit Singh of the Indian Army. Cease-fire on Dec. 17th and all. go home. Taken from the Jalchatra Chronicles
May 25, 2009
Rev. Eugene E. Homrich,CSC
Pastor. St. Paul’s Church,
Pirgacha, Madhupur,Tangail.


I was born in Mercy Hospital, Muskegon, Michigan on a cold winter night on December 8, 1928. My father worked very hard to support our family during a terrible time in the States. The depression lasted until World War II in 1943. Even though our family was poor we had good providers in my father and mother. We were six children and we all had a good education. My three brothers and sister were all enrolled in the Armed Services. I went to High School and University to Notre Dame University and four years of theology in Washington, D.C. at the Foreign Mission Seminary where we were taught theology as well as four years of Bengali, Islam and Hindu Religions. We studied Indian literature, religions and history in preparation for our work in Bengal. India and Pakistan were our Holy Cross Mission since 1853.
I was assigned to Golla Mission in Nowabganj P.S. after another year of Bengali under Abdul Hamid of Notre Dame College. After three years in a Bengali Parish I was assigned to work with the Garo Tribe in Haluaghat, Mymensingh and finally in Jalchatra in Tangail. The Madhupur Jungle was a Hindu Jungle under the Raja of Natore. There were only 2500 Catholic Garos in many villages when I went to Jalchatra in 1959. The health and educational level was very poor and many left for the sanctuary of India because of continual persecution by the Forest Department and Pakistan Government. I was trained in Integal Human Development in the Cody Institute in Canada, University of Wisconson in Credit Unions, Tropical Horticulture in the University of Florida and Tropical Agriculture in Baldwin College in Georgia, USA.
Teachers’ Training for Primary Teachers and gradually for Jalchatra and Pirgacha High School Teachers along with Human Development with toilets, shoes for hookworm, crop diversification, fish tanks for protein, etc. made for a healthy population. The war against India in 1964 and against Pakistan in 1971 saw many going to India for safety. Continual corruption by the Forest Department and government drove many to the sanctuary of India. The Mandis took their education and faith to the sanctuary of India.
In 1992 because of the huge Catholic population the Bishop of Mymensingh decided to split Jalchatra Mission and I founded Pirgacha. Again education and human development were our priorities. The terrible corruption of the Forest Department has destroyed a beautiful forest along with flora and fauna rare in the world. Every year we plant trees and sell seeds for cultivation. Eighty-five percent education has produced a healthy, educated Garo society. Because of the peaceful and hard working people our people are getting good jobs. Computer and development section in Pirgacha High School are insuring jobs in industry. The Garo society is producing loyal, hard working citizens for the country. My role with the liberation movement in 1971 along with the Muktis is well known in the area among the people. May God continue to bless this beautiful country.
Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC
St. Paul’s Church
P.O. Pirgacha; Dt. Tangail

Garo Pastoral Vision Statement

Because of the ethnic difference of the people of God in the Diocese of Mymensingh and the particular problems in the area, it is necessary to have a different pastoral plan.This plan should be an expression not only of the present situation.
In the Garo Church. It should be a vision of what the people themselves hope for themselves and the Garo race as the people of God. The pastoral plan should be the fruit of planning done by the people of God after analyzing their problems as an ethnic minority within a small Christian community in a Muslim country. As a Mongolian minority the Garo community has unique problems maintaining their identity as a Christian ethnic minority. The constant attempt to take over their lands because their lands are undocumented has made the community unstable and a vulnerable target for oppression. With the impoverishment of the Tribe many young people have migrated to the cities in the garments industry and as domestic servants or work in beauty parlors. Here they have become victims of corruption and vice. What is the peoples’ self image and hope for the future should be reflected in the pastoral plan.                                          
Prophetic pastoral guidelines:
We the Mandi people, choose the family in all its expressions as the core of our pastoral ministry.  We as Mandi people, make a preferential option for and in solidarity with the poor and marginalized.
We, as Mandi people make a preferential option for Mandi youth, so that they will participate at all levels of pastoral ministry.
We as Mandi people, want to develop and follow a pastoral plan that responds to our reality.
We, as Mandi  people, want to follow a pastoral thrust as an evangelizing and missionary Church.
We, as Mandi people, want to follow a thrust of promoting Mandi leadership which is incarnated and committed.
We, as Mandi people, want to follow a thrust of integral education sensitive to our cultural identity.
We, as Mandi people want to follow a thrust as a Church that promotes and exemplifies justice.
We as a Mandi people, wish to follow a thrust of valuating and promoting women, recognizing her equality and dignity, and her role in the Church, the family, and society.
       We, as Mandi people, commit ourselves to create and maintain the small ecclesial communities in order to foster and share Christian gifts incarnated in the Mandi culture, developing the ecclesial awareness of our people promoting a Church that is prophetic, evangelizing, communitarian, and missionary; in order to attract those alienated or separated from the ecclesial structures; in order to continue the catechesis in accordance with the needs of our people, and in order to encourage prayer and reflection, sharing our faith, customs, culture, and material and spiritual resources.
      We, as Mandis, commit ourselves to collaborate in the development of a pastoral plan together that will be adopted to the diocese by the bishop, priests, catechists, teachers and the laity, based on the study and analysis of the real needs of the Mandis taking into consideration their culture, language, and customs.


      We as Mandis commit ourselves to create base communities using gospel values, giving special attention to the formation of the agents of pastoral leadership.
      We, as Mandi people, commit ourselves to achieve greater authority and power for the offices of the Mandi apostolate in order that they be authentic evangelizing instruments of our people.
      We commit ourselves to develop a style of evangelization that is more personal orientated toward the formation of small communities where the integral message of salvation may be lived and proclaimed.
      We, as Mandis commit ourselves to develop a plan of consciousness raising and analysis of the existing education and communication systems controlled for materialistic purposes and without a Christian value system.
       We as Christian Mandis, commit ourselves to create plays, books, stories and other programs, which reflect our religious, cultural, political and socioeconomic reality, capable of penetrating it with an integral evangelizing dimension that embraces the totality of the person. We, as Mandis, commit ourselves to be authentic evangelizers, promoting Christian values from the family, society, culture and the Church, in order to eliminate all abuse and exploitation.
                                                    Integral Education
      We, as Mandis, commit ourselves to promote the creation of a program for integral education that embraces the totality of the person within his/her reality and which includes the spiritual, socioeconomic, political and multicultural formation. This program will give priority to the family---the primary educator, youth, women, the poor and marginal (Tribals, peasants, urban workers, prisoners, political prisoners, undocumented, refuges, migrants, etc.)
      We, the Mandi people, commit ourselves to collaborate in order to achieve the personal awareness and consciousness raising of our pastoral leaders; clergy, religious, lay directors of projects, houses of formation, on the importance of our culture, language, historical reality, and popular religiosity have in our integral formation (religious, social, economic and political).
       We Mandis commit ourselves to acquire, use, and produce a religious and mass media to develop social justice, educational programs according to the actual needs of the Mandis.
       We Mandis commit ourselves to become involved in the Catholic and public educational system (managing committees, parish councils, regional committees, etc.) and to use our influence and capabilities to advocate:
a)      An educational system that would give mandis a right to higher education (high school, colleges, university and professional education).
b)      Orientation and financial aid for students with the greatest need: youth, farm workers, and women, handicapped, undocumented, garment workers, beauty parlor workers, new urban workers and the exploited in Mandi society.
c)      Adult programs for conscious raising with special emphasis on social analysis, self help, justice and peace issues.
d)     educational programs in the fields of social, religious, political and human rights.

e) Adult programs for conscious raising with special emphasis on social analysis, self-help, justice and peace issues.

                                                          SOCIAL JUSTICE
         We as Mandi people commit ourselves to denounce injustices and to struggle for human rights in all their dimensions, especially:
The inalienable right of all Mandis to live and work in any place without discrimination. Tribal lands belong to the Mandis even though, because of historical and political reasons, lands are undocumented.
The right of each worker, man or women, farm worker, servants, garment workers, teachers, catechists, beauty parlor workers, etc; to receive just wages, housing and needed social services.
The protection of the law for all those who suffer persecution of any kind: social, economic, political, or religious.
Respect life from its conception in all forms and struggle so that it may always be respected.
We as Mandis commit ourselves to support the statements and policies of our bishops in Bangladesh regarding justice and peace issues, birth control and family life.
We support their statements regarding minority rights and Tribal rights and discrimination against the marginalized.
We as Mandis, request that the means of mass communication be used to denounce the violence and injustice aimed at the family, youth, women, Tribals, minorities, peasants, factory workers and the imprisoned.
We as Christian Mandis, commit ourselves to contribute in the development and implementation of a plan of action for social justice on a national, regional, diocesan, and parochial level, which should include programs of:
  1. Conscientization of the injustices that oppress our people.
  2. a formation for justice according to the social doctrine of the Church.
  3. information, education and legal defense.
  4. literacy and training.
  5. civil and political formation
  6. medical assistance and education in preventive medicine,
 We, as Mandis people commit ourselves to work so that the Church may set an example of her own social doctrine.
We as Christian Mandis commit ourselves to work for the renewal of the parish and sub-parishes in order that we may establish a truly Mandi Christian society based on Gospel values.
We, as Mandi commit ourselves to become critically aware of oppressive political and economic systems, as well as the international issues such as the arms race. ecological and the drug problems, etc.,following the guidelines of the magisterium of the Church.
We, as Christian Mandis commit ourselves to create an office on the diocesan and parish level on a permanent  basis, which should communicate with regional,

diocesan, parochial and grassroots levels. This coordination should create integral programs of formation, guidance and conscientization (religious vocations, leadership, human relations and so on).
We, Mandis commit ourselves within the national pastoral plan and local parish plans, a youth  pastoral at parochial, diocesan, regional and national Tribal levels through an option and concrete actions in favor of youth which should include:
  1. integral formation of youth in the rural and urban areas and help to provide the necessary funds;
  2. a full time coordinator to be in charge of the mandi youth pastoral plan;
We, the Mandi youth commit ourselves to be missionaries to our own youth (peer ministry) expressing our faith with our own youthful spirit, culture and in the light of the Gospel.
We, the Mandi youth commit ourselves to change the educational system to value our language, cultural values and to receive the necessary education to be integrated into the national culture and society.
We as Mandi youth commit ourselves to the creation and implementation of leadership  training programs for the youth so that they can participate with other youths, adolescents, children and adults promoting associations and ecumenical movements.
We, Mandis commit ourselves to promote activities in order to seek funds which would help provide scholarships and youth programs.
We, Mandis commit ourselves to promote the unity of the Christian family through integral education for both parents and children.
We, Mandis commit ourselves to set an example of practical Christianity to youth and to support their participation, focusing on justice and peace, so that the young may participate in all Church ministeries, thus giving a renewing vision of youthful potential and renewing the Tribal values of joy, celebration of life, honesty, truthfulness and unity.
                                         LEADERSHIP FORMATION
We, as Mandis commit ourselves to discover, motivate, support, promote, and foster leaders who come from the people, and live with the people at the grass roots level.
We, as Mandis commit ourselves to participate in the planning, decision making and in assuming positions of responsibility in the Church at all levels (national, regional, diocesan, parochial, village, etc.).
We, as Mandis, commit ourselves to strive for the creation of centers of integral formation with mobile teams, which should insure the continual formation of  leaders for all ministries and groups with common interests on diocesan, regional and national levels.
We as Mandi people commit ourselves to assume as our responsibility the promotion of vocations to the priesthood, religious life, lay ministry, catechists, and teachers within the Mandi community, bearing in mind that the candidates be provided with a formation that responds to the cultural and spiritual needs of the people, and permits them to be incarnated in our reality in Bangladesh.


We as Mandis commit ourselves to assume our responsibility for the financial support of the local Church and take effective means to provide for the education of Mandis to support their teachers, catechists and local clergy financially.
We as Mandis commit ourselves to work with our bishops, priests, religious, teachers and catechists so that they will work together with the people and their lay leaders in the parish councils and villages by promoting leadership meetings to unify criteria and bring about mutual support and effective pastoral work.
We as Mandis commit ourselves to raise the consciousness of civic leaders through various means. Thus encouraging leadership in our own community to analyse and solve the problems of the Mandi Church in Bangladesh.

Jishuna Rasong

September 8, 2015


St. Paul’s Church, Pirgacha 2014

St. Paul’s Church, Pirgacha 2014

Census 2014

(1) Catholic:- (Male:  4,459, Female: 4,354) : 8813
(2) Catechumen:- (Male: 48, Female: 61) : 109
(3) Baptist:- (Male: 679, Female: 650 ): 1329
(4) Oxford: (Male: 526, Female: 505): 1031
(5) SDA: (Male: 108, Female: 97) : 205
(6) Pagan: (Male: 61, Female: 63): 124
(7) Hindu: (Male: 2, Female: 2): 4
(8) Muslim: (Male: 16, Female: 75): 91
(9) Mandai: (Male: 505, Female: 496): 1001
Grand Total: ( Male: 6404, Female: 6303): 12707

Report on Education 2014
(1) SSC: (Male: 325, Female: 283): 608
(2) HSC: ( Male: 241, Female: 282): 523
(3) BA/BSS/BBS: (Male: 87, Female: 63): 150
(4) M.A/MSS/MBS: (Male: 34, Female: 24): 58
(5) PTI: (Male: 22, Female: 35): 57
(6) B.ED: (Male: 4. Female: 5): 9
(7) M.ED : (Male: 1, Female: 1): 2
(8) LLB: ( Male: 1, Female: 0): 1
(9) MBBS: ( Male: 2, Female: 1): 3

Report on Profession (Job) – 2014
(1) Garments worker: (Male: 130, Female:L 32): 162
(2) Beauty parlor(Beautician): (Male: 8, Female: 679): 687
(3) Cook (work in house): (Male:73, Female: 89): 162
(4) Nurse: (Male: 10, Female: 55): 65
(5) NGO  worker: (Male: 137, Female: 91): 228
(6) Police, Army, BGB (Defense): (Male: 6, Female: 2): 8
(7) Security(Male: 121, Female: 0): 121
(8) Work in rice mills and others ): (Male: 46, Female: 5): 51
(9) Car Driver (Male: 96, Female: 0): 96
(10) Teacher ( Male: 32, Female: 65):97
(11) Work in hotel: (Male: 10, Female: 0): 10
(12) Work in Pharmacy: (Male: 11, Female:2): 13
(13) Work in Poultry Farm and others: (Male: 24, Female: 2): 26
(14) Work in Shop( Male: 96, Female: 26): 122
(15) Govt. Service: (Male: 4, Female: 6) : 10



The Wangala Harvest Feast is celebrated by the Abeng Garos in Madhupur and in many places in India and is distinctive to the Abeng Garos. This Feast ushers in the most beautiful time of the year. and generally occurs in October when the “jhum” or hill rice is harvested. The rains peter out and the weather becomes sparkling and clear. There is little rain and crops can be harvested. Some time after Wangala there is some cultivation in the “jhum” or slash and burn fields. These fields are cultivated for three years and trees planted after that. Preparation for Wangala begins well before the celebrations are due. Cows or pigs must be purchase from the market to provide meat for the feast. Many people buy new clothes in order to be elegant for the celebration, and men usually repair their houses. The day before the celebration and dances, the cows or pigs are slaughtered.
Dances are practiced and the sound of the “aduri” or horn and drums are heard day and night. The many beautiful dances imitating planting of rice and the death mourning and cremation are practiced. The chicken marriage is imitated along with the slaughtering of animals and the death rites sending the soul for reincarnation to Nokrek, Balpakra and Chickmang hills in India. After cremation the area is smoothed and reincarnation is divined by whatever walks across the soft clay in the next morning.
Wangala is one of the three feasts celebrated by the Abeng and imitate daily activities. Capturing the boy, the cremation, harvesting the hill rice, clearing the jungle for the hill rice, reincarnation are all imitated thru dances. A free flow of rice wine makes for free dances and lot of fun and horseplay that are out of place ordinarily. gongs, flutes and trumpets are played and songs imitating Garo life are sung.
At the Wangala, it is the custom to mix flour with water and put a mark with the mixture in the shape of
the chicken foot on the forehead symbolizing the resurrection. The Harvest Feast is a time for
rejoicing and celebrated with dances, songs and family reunion by the Abengs. The Madhupur
Garos celebrate Mangals and thank God for their beautiful children and family life. Cultural values of family, culture, religion, honesty, truthfulness and inner peace and joy are still valued and practiced in Bangladesh.The Mandis in Pirgacha Mission are still close to their cultural values of family love for the child and spouses. Family life is blessed by their Catholic faith and our Mandis are now educated and hard working. May God Almighty bless all who celebrate this beautiful Wangala Feast. Let us also be thankful for all our benefactors and teachers. Jisuna Rasong!

Rev. Eugene E. Homrich,CSC
Parish Priest, St. Paul's Church,
Pirgacha, Madhupur, Tangail, Bangladesh.


Pirgacha: St. Paul’s Church

Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC, returned to Bangladesh on Feb. 28,1992. On March 2, 1992, Bishop Francis Gomes, Bishop of Mymensingh Diocese told him to open a new Parish in Pirgacha Village and separate from Jalchatra Parish. I was told that Fr. Alex Rabinal had been appointed Administrator in my place in Jalchatra. We were supposed to open a new Mandi Parish in January 1993. The people in Dorgacholla revolted and said they had been promised a Parish. They locked the church and did not allow anyone to come to Mass.
I arrived in Pirgacha on Ash Wednesday and had a grand welcome. We had Mass under a mango tree by the boys’ boarding. We had to purchase two “pakis” of land for Tk. 8000 from Jimber Mri, the local kamal and leader for the rectory, storerooms and eventually the girls’ boarding. Fr. Alex Rabinal, CSC, Fr. Ponen Kubi, CSC and Fr. Peter Rosario came to Pirgacha and determined the position for the rectory. We sunk a well, 1.5 inch, 110 ft. and 20 ft. filter. Ground broken March 19th 1992 and the first bricks and building material arrive.
SDA built a church in North Chunia. The young boys broke the church and beat up the SDB preacher who promised land, houses, cows, etc. Fr. Homrich lived in Monendra Nokrek’s house for six month.. The new house was finished and the priest moved in on June 1, 1992.
Bishop Francis had a bad heart attack in Bhalukapara on June 11 and Fr. Charley Houser, CSC is VG running the Diocese.
Feb. 1, 1993, Fr. Benjamin Gomes, SX becomes my assistant. Bishop announces that Pirgacha, St. Paul’s will become separate from Jalchatra January 1, 1993. The Catholic population was 6288, Baptist 1201, Oxford 584, SDA 143, pagan 1031 and catechumen 120.
Forest Department is trying to take Mandi lands and the Asia Development Bank gives unsupervised loans which are misused to plant 8000 acres of useless rubber trees. The sal and 60 other species are being sold to 63 saw mills and many false cases are started against the Mandis. Ford foundation gave one million to reforest ate the village of Pekamari. When I told the Ford representative she canceled the loan. State Minister for environment Gayishor Ch. Roy called a meeting in dokhala. I told him President Zia said not to touch Tribal Lands either here or in the North and Foreign Aid from Asia Development Bank depends on the proper use of loans and Human rights violations will cancel the loans. Zakir chairman #9 Union and Hobi chairman #11 said they will throw me out of the country and burn down the Mission.
Wangala celebrated and the new science building given by the British Government dedicated in Oct, 1993. Bethany Ashram opened for deliveries and “foolish Virgins”. Unmarried girls of all faiths come, deliver and give me the baby which is adopted according to the faith of the mother through the courts.
Feb. 1994 refused Fr. Homrich, CSC a visa because I stopped the loan to the Forest Department from Asia. Development Bank because the Forest Dept. was taking tribal lands. No cultivated lands are to be taken by the Forest Department. William Dajel and Michael Simsang started a case #506 against Fr. Homrich, CSC. He filed a blasphemy case against them and they case was dropped.
Papal Nuntio Adriano Bernadini gave schools in Sainamari, Bhutia, Kedjai, Beduria, Joynagacha. Margareta Weiser gave the new Primary School in Pirgacha. she works from Germany for Tribals in Asia. The Italian Bishops gave the new class room in the High School. William Dazel called the final football tournament on the High School field without permission. I put Section 144 in place so they all fled.
After 14 years of waiting we finally got our own Pirgacha Post Office on June 24, 1995.
The new Postmaster will be Jugadesh Rema from Thanarbaid. The new High School classrooms given by the Italian Bishop’s conference blessed by the Nuntio on March 6, 1996.
The Forest Department shot and killed Bihesh Nokrek of Joynagaccha, father of six children. Sainamari Church destroyed by a tornado. The church was built only two years ago in 1994. Arif Niase set up a knitting factory for 95 Mandi women.
Dr. Emilio A. Rozario a Planning Specialist with the Madacor Group said the Bangladesh government intents to remove 16,000 Garos to protect the forest. The World Bank is supposed to finance the project. I said President Zia promised that the Garos would never be evicted in the town Hall meeting in Mymensingh on Feb. 14, 1976. Major General Dustigir also promised that Garos will now be taken in civil service jobs and the armed services.
The Forest Department decided to make an eco-park on 3000 acres of forest land. No Mandi villages are included. The Mandis formed a procession near Jalabada. Piren Snal shot and killed and Utfol Nokrek of Beduria shot and paralyzed for life. 25 other Mandis in the procession have bird shot under their skin. Government decided to drop the wall project.
Bishop Ponen Kubi, CSC was consecrated in Mymensingh on Feb. 13 2004. His family lives in Jalabada. He was educated in Jalchatra High School, Notre Dame college and the Banani Major Seminary.


Murder in Madhupur: the bigger issue
The Daily Star, Dhaka Sunday May 13, 2001
In Bangladesh, forests can be found in the coastal areas (Mangrove), in the Hill region (Sylhet and CHT) in the plains (Dhaka, Tangail, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rangpur and Dinajpur) and small forests are even found in the villages, surrounding homesteads, However, deforestation is damaging the ecology of the country at an alarming rate. Despite the popular campaign of "cut one tree plant two to replace it" and strict laws against violators of forest land, the black Market is still doing a roaring trade in illegal logging.
The Madhupur forest in the districts of Tangail and Mymensingh is, to date, the largest surviving forest of the plains. It used to occupy 250 square miles, but deforestation has reduced it to more than half its original area. This has been the cause of a lot of resentment from the Koch and Mandi (also known as Garo) tribes who live in the area today. The mandi people have been living in the Madhupur forests for several hundred years, cultivating rice, fruits mainly pineapples and vegetables and conserving the produce of the forest. According to the British Zamindari system, the forest and the inhabitants came under the Zamindari of the Rajah of Natore who, in turn, dedicated the area to the god Gobinda as a gift (debottor). Throughout the British Raj, the Mandi people cultivated the high land under lease and could register the lowland in their own name.
In 1978, the Mandi recorded their lowlands under the Indian Tenancy Act. 1878. In 1956, a forest settlement Officer tried to repeal this act and a notice of eviction was gazetted, but not served on the Mandi people. Since the Partition in 1947, the land claims of the Mandi people have been under increasing jeopardy.
In 1962, the government of Pakistan established a 500-acre farm in Kakraid under Madhupur Thana, and resettled displaced Bangali farmers on Mandi prescription lands in Aronkhola.
In 1968 and 1969, eviction notices were sent, to the Mandi of Chunia village by the Divisional Forest Officer of Mymensingh.
There was no mention of resettlement or compensation for the evicted families. This sort of forced displacement by the Bangali settlers, often with false documents, and the authority continued throughout the years and in 1977, President Ziaur Rahman suggested that the tribals form a Tribal Welfare Association (TWA) to protect their own interests. This came into being on 15 June 1977. The Association produces a 15-point demand regarding land, security, education and the power and authority to decide their own development. The demand petition was never answered. In 1978 Divisional Forest Officer and District commissioner of Tangail issued eviction notices to 200 homesteads comprising of about 800 families, in order for the government to create a national park. As compensation they were offered 1000 taka per homestead and also one acre of land. Ironically, the 200 acres of land offered as compensation was already registered and occupied by poor Bangali refugees.
In 1980, the Rasulpur Range Officer was ordered by the Government to occupy 100 acres of Mandi land in Joynagacha, Bondoriachala and Kedjai. Some of the Mandi people there had land-owing documentation dating back 130 years. About 200 non tribals (Bangalis) were brought in to settle there, set up a sub office and plant mulberry trees. In May 1981, the Forest Department hired local thugs to try and occupy land by force. After the Proclamation of Martial law in 1982, a martial law Order was sent to the Union Chairman and village government head to evict those forcibly occupying government forest.
Land grabbing still exists and the classic pattern is that investigations are carried out, commissioners are set up and promises are given. After the initial excitement and anger has worn away, the matter is quietly dropped and forgotten. Even the media forget the issue and do not follow up on such matters. In 1984, over 42,000 acres in the Madhupur forest were classified as forest land meaning land belonging to the state Forest department but the Mandi were not consulted in this matter. In 1986, Rubber plantations began threatening the forest ecology. The first plantation was 15,000 acres big and established in the Madhupur forest. Private entrepreneurs took over the Mandi land without compensation and in January 1990, the government announced that 25,000 acres of Madhupur forest were now planted with rubber trees. With another 40,000 acres to be developed with funding from the Asian Development Bank. Faced with pressure from human rights groups, the ADB withdrew funding. Much of the forest has been destroyed and the rich sal and teak trees uprooted and other plants and wildlife wiped out.
Land grabbing is one of he major problems faced by tribal people all over the country. Land is taken by force, fraud or bribery and it is difficult for the tribal people to establish their rights. One of the causes for this is the sad lack of education and ignorance of the law. Another reason is discrimination. While the constitution advocated every person equal right under the law, in various occasions, tribals are considered to be second-class citizens. These are the reasons why access to legal recourse is not found and why many prefer to keep quite about injustices, done to them. Some fear violence and retribution from local Bangalis, while others are exasperated by the fact that the law enforcing agencies in the locality do nothing to protect them from wrongful acts. such as land grabbing, forced eviction and even crimes such as rape and murder.

Crucial Problems of the Indigenous Peoples of the Madhupur Forest, Tangail, Bangladesh

01. Indigenous Peoples are living at Madhupur area for at least two centuries. They are the original inhabitants of the area.

02. Bangladesh Govt. refuses to recognize the rights of the indigenous people to the ancestral and traditionally occupied lands and natural resources in the Madhupur Jungle.

03. The Indigenous people of the Madhupur Forest area try to preserve the environment in the area by preserving the local species such as (Sal (sorea robosta) and other native trees and medicinal plants, wild birds and animals) but FD has destroyed the forest for personal gain with the help of outsiders and wealthy thieves. Guni, Chief Conservator of Forest was sentenced to 12 years last month when a fortune was discovered in his house.

04. The Indigenous population of Madhupur are victims of Government plans to plant foreign trees on their crop lands, plans to evict the people and establish the National Park, Eco Park, Firing Range of Air force etc. Five times the BD government has planned to evict the Indigenous People with the help of the ADB. WB, etc. The ADB funded social forestry Project is designed to relocate mainstreams population in the adivasi (IP) inhabited area, virgin forests destroyed and give to influential persons.

05. At least 6000 false forest cases have been filled against innocent people. Corrupt officials file the cases and the legal structure is completely corrupt. The last two Conservators of Forests have been sentence and are in jail for corruption. The court cases go on for years and are completely false and the legal system is corrupt. It is an open plan of the BD Govt. against the Indigenous people with the help of foreign donors. ADB has destroyed the forests with their unsupervised loans. Now ADB is “financing” the development of the unique Sunderbans! The main objective of filling forest cases against the Indigenous peoples is to destroy them socially and economically.

06. In 2003–2004 during the protest against the Eco-Park project implementation, FD and Police filed 28 false cases against 95 innocent IPs in the Courts. Victims are facing those cases and are economically ruined. 25 Garos were shot by the police and Forest Department. One boy died and one is paralyzed for life. Many still have lead in their bodies from the shootings.
07. FD claims that Indigneous People are illegal occupants of the Madhupur Forest. FD/Govt. doesn’t recognize ILO convention article No. 107, rectified article no. 169 and recent declaration of UN on IPs rights. the IP have lived here for centuries.

08. Permanent settlement of the lands of IPs is needed according to the present Bangladesh land laws. There should be a clear demarcation of lands belonging to the Forest Department and the Indigenous people who paid
land taxes for their homestead and low lands to the Hindu Zamindar of
Natore for many years.

09. Under the present situation there is no security for the Indigenous people in Bangladesh. They have been driven out of the country and their lands confiscated by the Governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh many times.

10. There is no system for the Indigenous People for higher education, Govt. jobs such as local Govt. body, Union Parishod, Upazila Parishod, District Council and Parliament to protect their civil rights and their demands are rare.

11. Donors give and provide economic social and political priority to CHT-approximately for the 600,000 people, but there is no donors that give attention or priority for the Indigenous People numbering over 2 million in the plain lands . Donors fund for the IP development through Bengali led NGOs, which are often, have a negative impacts on IPs development.

12. Religion fanaticism as well as prejudiced cultural policies of the State regime increasingly arrest ethnic and cultural diversity in the country.

From The Indigenous People of the Madhupur Forest (25,000 citizens of



In December 1959 His Grace Archbishop Graner, CSC told Fr. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC to build a rectory in Jalchatra and separate the Madhupur Garos from Mymensingh Mission. The Mission included all the Garo villages on the so called southern villages from the Bramaputra river. This included 56 Garo villages but there were only 2500 Catholics in the Villages from North Bagra to Singacholla south of Dorgacholla. There were few Primary Schools and literacy was about 5%. The people were poor, sickly with kalajar, TB etc. They lived off the forest roots and cultivated some rice lands. Garo pagan religion was practiced everywhere. There was 250 sq. miles of forest land belonging to the Raja of Natore who used the Garos to harvest the sal or gazari trees. The forest contained leopard, deer, peacock, wild chickens and about 250 beautiful birds in the thick Gazari jungle. The low lands were registered in the name of the Garos and they paid household taxes for the homestead lands.
When the Forest Department took over the forest this was the beginning of the destruction of the forest and many false cases were started and taxes were no longer collected. The Jalchatra rectory was completed on Oct. 20,1960 and I took up residence at that time. Government surveyors measured the mission compound and found a total of 3.57 acres. This was not accurate and I told them to get out.
John Gomes, the brother of Bishop Francis Gomes was the catechist trained in Bhalukapara by Fr. Bauer. He instructed the Mandis in Chunia and Pirgacha. We baptised Pirgacha on April 25, 1961. The church expanded quickly because of lay catechists and small primary schools. The Credit Union was started by Fr. Charles Young, CSC in 1961. The Pakistan government declared the area a National Park and took over 40 sq miles including Mandi Villages and rice lands. Many Madhupur Mandis left for India in Feb. 1964. Villages were looted, houses burnt. Many died in route or were shot by the E.P.R. We defended the villages with bows and arrows. Over 25 villages have disappeared or moved to new areas in the Jungle. The Pakistan government refused to recognize registration and to collect taxes saying the Zamindar lands were now enemy property. On Sept. 8, 1965 Pakistan Army took over the Jalchatra Mission and I lived with them as they were at war with India. Over 3000 Pakistan Army troops were in the jungle and caused no problem..
On March 2,1992 Bishop Francis Gomes told Fr. Homrich, CSC to open a new Parish in Pirgacha. I purchased land near the Pirgacha School and made this the church. Fr. Alex Rabinal, CSC and Fr. Ponen Kubi, CSC along with Fr. Peter Rozario helped me decide where to build the rectory. The new house was finished and I moved in on June 1, 1992. Feb.1,1993 Bishop Francis announced that the new parish is now separated from Jalchatra. The Catholic population was 6288, Baptist 1201, Oxford 584, SDA 143, pagan 1031 and catechumen 120.
Health condition of the Mandis was terrible. No toilets or tube wells and most were filled with hook worms and ascaris. I was trained in Cody Institute in Canada, University of Wisconsin, University of Florida and Baldwin College in Georgia in development and tropical horticulture. Missionary spirituality was learned at Maryknoll.
The secret of success was because of lay teachers and catechists in 22 Primary schools. They were trained by the Xavarian Fathers in Jessore Catechical Center. The poorly paid
teachers, catechists, mostly women run the Primary Schools, development projects, instruction of new catechumens, justice and peace cases and teaching Mandi culture and dances. They run the Catholic Church and are poorly paid for their work. There has been many plans to remove the Mandis from the so called Madhupur Jungle. The head of the Tea Board came one day and said we have decided to move all the Mandis to the Tea Gardens as coolies. I informed “Ket Monjur” Communist Party and the head of the Tea board fled before they could catch him. He went to Dhaka and resigned. The Asia Development Bank destroyed the jungle with foreign tree plantation and new lot system. Madacor Group represented by Dr. Emilio A Rozario, a planning specialist wanted to remove 16,000 Garos and put them in cluster villages. I appealed to President Zia and he promised that the Garos would never be removed from the Madhupur Jungle in Mymensingh Hall Meeting on Feb. 14, 1976. The Forest Department with foreign help are trying to establish an Eco-park on 3000 acres in Jalabada. When the Mandis objected Piren Snal was killed and Utfol Nokrek of Beduria as shot in the spine and crippled for life. Day and night the Forest Department is selling the few trees left and have 1600 false cases against the Mandis. There are three cases against the Mission. We won three times and the Forest Department appealed.
The Madhupur Forest exist only on the map and new Muslim families are illegally occupying the forest. There is no land in the country and they are good farmers.
Bishop Ponen Kubi, CSC born in Deocholla village which is no longer a Mandi Village was consecrated as Bishop of Mymensingh on Feb. 13, 2004. The secret of success here in Pirgacha has been created by the Primary Schools and High Schools. We have 85% educated but need Higher Education not pucca buildings. Tura Diocese in India now has 40% Abeng from Bangladesh.
The total number of Catholics is 4,459 male and 4,354 female Mandis with a total of 8,813 Catholic Mandis; Baptist are 1,329, Church of Bangladesh is 1,031, SDA 205, pagan 124. So far 91 Mandis have become Muslim.. This is a summary of the Pirgacha. Parish as of Dec. 2014. We need better pay for the Primary School teachers who are running the Catholic Church. St. Paul’s High School had 660 students, mostly Mandi. Many are studying in College and trade schools. Education in the Catholic Faith is done by lay teachers, many of whom are studying in the Open University for Higher Degrees. This is truly a lay run Catholic Church and the Mandis in the Parish are really running the Church. They have the Faith, Hope and Charity!

Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, CSC September 8, 2015
Pastor of St. Paul’s Church
P,O,Pirgacha; Dt. Tangail


The Garos, or Mandi tribes are a gentle comunity isolated from the rest of the nation by their lush and forested jungle homeland. In the predominately Muslim country of Bangladesh, this is a matrilineal society where the women own the family land and pass on the family name. For the past 50 years, they have been in the company of The Holy Cross Mission whose purpose has been giving the tribal people opportunities to flourish both culturally, economically and spiritually.

The Holy Cross Foreign Mission Center, Inc. is a 501c3 charitable organization, whose work to provide funds and other support and assistance for overseas missions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, particularly in Bangladesh and East Africa.
The Holy Cross Mission based in Pirgacha, Bangladesh was founded by Michigan-born Father Eugene Homrich in 1960. Today there are about 10,000 Catholics in Pirgacha mission that the parish serves. About 1700 pupils study in 24 primary schools, another 550 attend High School. Today the tribal literacy rates stands at 85 percent, and many of them have graduated from college.
Education has transformed this traditional society and allowed them to thrive in a very unique environment. Supporting the programs of The Holy Cross Mission in Pirgacha is essential to the safety, survival and growth of the tribal people.