Bangla Muslim infiltrators attac Bodo villages, torch houses, hamlets
50 killed, over two lakh homeless in make-shift camps
Located on the Western edge of Assam along the state border with West Bengal on the West and Bhutan on the North, Kokrajhar distt. is a cauldron of simmering communal tension. Four major clashes over the last 60 years—involving Bodos, the first settlers, Bangladeshi Muslims and tea-garden labourers—have been born out of mistrust among the communities. The mistrust is based on land.
The current clash is also a result of mistrust, the seeds of which were sowed on May 25 when a NDFB militant was killed at Howraguri in Kokrajhar distt while extorting money from Muslims.The slain militant was not only found to be fake but he was a Muslim as well. On June 30, a Muslim carpenter was killed in Sapkata in the district and all the people of community took out the body of deceased and blamed the Bodos for the crime. The killers were later found to be members of an Adivasi militant outfit. On July 5, two more Muslims were killed at Antihara under Dotoma police station in the district and this time, too, the killers were not Bodos but from the Kamatapur Liberation
Organisation (KLO). However, the Muslims’ backlash against the Bodos only gained momentum which culminated in the killing of four Bodo youths on Friday-the July 20. The next day, three more Bodos, all elderly persons, were killed.
The Hindu (Bodo)-Muslim communal clash which broke out on July 20 in Kokrajhar district has claimed atleast around 50 lives officially, though unofficially, the toll is reported to be at least 100 (till 25.7.12). Nearly two lakh
people are rendered homeless who are leaving in 128 relief camps. Nearly one thousand houses from over 50 villages are burnt to ashes and properties worth several crores have been destroyed. The army has staged flag march in four district of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Dhubri. Eleven trains including Rajdhani Express were cancelled and 15 other regulated. The 30,000 passengers were stranded in New Jalpaiguri and Kamakhyaguri stations. The current
violence has drawn the Bodo Hindus and Muslim communities into the vortex of communal violence. Several questions are raised as to why the violence has spread like wild fire during the past 48 hrs. It appears that Bangladeshi Muslim migrants have been preparing for long to display the combating and striking strength. Kokrajhar has a population of around eight lakhs of which a little over one lakh are reported to belong to Muslim migrants. The fear of being swamped by illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators, who have been getting easy ingress from other parts of Assam, also exists among the Bodo Hindus as with the other communities in Assam. The Muslims have posed a serious threat to the very existence of Bodos. And the state Government is miserably failed to check the Muslim influx because it is their vote bank. It is pertinent to point out that the population of infiltrators from Bangladesh who have succeeded in permanently setting down in Assam, has become a major issue. This may be seen from the fact that out of 23 districts in 2001 census, six districts—Dhubri (74.3 per cent), Barpeta (59.3 per cent), Hailakandi (57.6 per cent), Goalpara (53.7 per cent), Karimganj (52.3 per cent) and Nagaon (51 per cent)- have a Muslim majority population. In Marigoan, they constitute 47.6 per cent and in Cachar 36.1 per cent. In 8 of 23 districts, they constitute
a very small proportion ranging from 1.6 per cent to 8 per cent. Another point that has been noted with regard to Kokrajhar is that Muslim migrants have been used in the similar way by foreign forces to turn Assam into a Lebensraum.
These Muslim forces who are well entrenched within Bharatvarsh’s northeast, have created their armed cadres to suit the insurgency prone region. And it is alleged that armed Muslim cadres are used to foment the clash. The foreign force is alleged to instigate the migrant Muslims on communal line. It is strange to notice that when Assam is burning because of attack from Bangladeshi Muslim migrants, the national media has just reported casually. The Central leaders too appear very casual in their approach. And where are the Human Rightists activists? It seems that they don’t find any violation of human rights of Bodos by Muslim infiltrators and by the state sponsored Muslim terrorism. How strange?
AFTER turning into a basket of Bangladeshis, the unabated influx continues, Assam is now feeling the heat of socio-economic tension and conflict, a warning repeatedly given by sociologists, but ignored. Bodo Territorial Areas District (BTAD), located on the north bank of Brahmaputra and on the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, is again on boil.
Bodos and Muslims have come in for clash, taking a volatile, violent and bloody shape. Till date more than 50 lives officially have been lost and more and more dead bodies continue to be recovered. Over 1.5 lakh people belonging to Bodo, Muslim, tea tribe and other tribal and non-tribal communities have been rendered homeless and sheltered in relief camps. Thousands of villages across the three districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baska have been set on fire. With the coalition government of Congress and Bodo People’s Progresive Front at Dispur, the capital, caught in quandary, the security forces have been finding it difficult to tackle and control. Neither round the clock curfew nor the flag march by army could douse the flame of hatred and enmity. If the UPA-II rule is a trailer of scams and scandals, Gogoi government III has set the worst example of misrule and mis-governance with open loot of central funds, stagnant development, disconnect ministers and MLAs of the party from the masses, thousands of illegal migrants from across the border making a vanishing act, unchecked encroachment of forest lands and tribal belts and even buffer zones around the Kaziranga National Park and wild life sanctuaries under pressure along the state and its administrative machinery on drift along with deteriorating law and order. The fall out of such ill governance is quite natural. The waves of violence that started on July 20 continued to sweep the BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) areas. Rampaging mobs from both the Bodo and Muslims dared to defy all sorts of prohibitory orders. The violence did not trigger all of a sudden. Sequences of events involving both the communities gave enough indication of confrontation. Just a few days ago, two student leaders of minority community were badly thrashed by Bodo miscreants. It was retaliated with the merciless killing of four former Bodo extremists belonging to Bodo Liberation Tiger. What people could realise about the impending violence, the government, the administration and the intelligence just preferred to sleep over it. To say that it was the immediate cause would be a wrong assessment of the situation. The background for another bloody clash was building up. Bodos assertive to protect their identity and culture found themselves
being swamped by aliens. The coming into being of BTAD on February 10, 2003 did not end the conflict. Rather, it created resentment among other tribal and non tribal groups. The Bodos got the territory they wanted without finding a solution to the problem that has been haunting their territory. The very composition of the Autonomous Council with 46 seats has sent a wrong signal as the non Bodos have been accusing of their disproportionate representation.
While 30 seats have gone to tribals, 5 to non-tribals and 5 to all communities, 6 of them are to be filled up by the Governor. This has generated the fear-psychosis among the non Bodos of losing their identity, social and economic as well as political rights. Apart from the resentment among the non Bodos, the Bodos have genuine fear of losing their identity. The root cause is not seriously thought of by the policy makers and the government at the Centre and the State. Talking to Organiser, Aditya Khakhalari, general secretary of All Assam Tribal Sangha, based at Guwahati, when asked about the causes behind the frequent clashes between the Bodos and Muslims said over telephone, “The root lies in shrinking land mass of the Bodos in the forest and tribal belts due to encroachments by outsiders. This has been continuing since the 60s under successive Congress and AGP governments.” Bodo Tribal Council chief
Hagrama Mahiliary too blamed Bangladeshis for the communal clash which he described as a ‘third force’. The clashes spilled over to Dhubri, known as the hot bed of illegal migrants, with backlash which convinced him to say that hard line Bangladeshis are crossing over the Brahmaputra to reach the Muslim dominated districts of Dhubri and Goalpara with mischievous design. His urgent demand was for sealing the border of Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Goalpara with Bangladesh. Promod Boro, president of All Bodo Students Union, too echoed, “Deep conspiracy has been hatched by Bangladeshi elements who are adding fuel to fire.” It is no secret that on the Dhubri front, Islamic extremist
groups have been active for some time in the past, making easy access from Bangladesh through the porous border. It is also on record that some Huji operatives were caught by police sometime ago. It is not only the Bodoland, the
ground for ethnic clash exists in Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao district and other tribal areas. Tea tribes, Koch, Rajbongshis, Marang, Matak and Tai Ahom even after long agitation have not been granted ST status. Their anger and anguish is compounded by the loss of their traditional land.
After all the mayhem, carnage and genocide, both the Centre and the State have realised that it was all due to ‘security lapse’. Thousands homeless would be rehabilitated, dead would be compensated by Rs. 6 lakh each and those in relief camps would be well looked after till they returned home. The assurances and promises would continue as it has always happened to wait for the repeat of another blood-shed. But, no serious and sincere effort to reach the cause of the crisis.