(Updated) More than 100 longhouse folks from Rumah Ranggong Sungai Sah in Niah created a stir near Petra Jaya Courthouse compound yesterday when they performed an impromptu Gawai Antu ritual.

Dressed in traditional vest, complete with human skulls they performed ‘miring‘ or a form of Dayak Iban traditional religious ritual. They invoked their forefathers’ gods for help in the on-going land dispute with an oil palm developer.

After performing the ritual they gathered near the entrance of the courthouse and obliged to display their miring gears including seven human skulls to curious onlookers, journalists and photographers.

Their spokesman, Tau Dali, claimed that they brought the seven skulls all the way to Kuching from Niah as a symbol of their rights over the disputed land.

Tau said Rumah Rangong is a 76-door longhouse and their ancestors had settled in the area sometimes in 1930s. He claimed they had planted rubber and fruit trees on the disputed lands.

The developer had sought the injunction against the villagers to halt them from trespassing or encroaching into the disputed land which the company claimed had been leased out to it by the government.

But the villagers counterclaimed that they had native customary rights (NCR) over the disputed land, and therefore, rights to some of the benefits of the oil palm plantation joint-venture.

The High Court yesterday fixed Jan 13 next year for another hearing of the interim injunction application. The developer filed the application for the same at the High Court Registry last September.

They were represented by Counsel Harrison Ngau while the plaintiff was represented by George Lo. High Court Judge Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer presided over the hearing.

* Reporting by Utusan Borneo in Kuching and edited for Bintulu.Org