Bodos are the victims in Assam riots – Sandhya Jain

Assamese students fleeing South India

Sandhya Jain“Bodo leader Hagrama Mohilary claims that armed Bangladeshis from across the international border incited the violence; Bodos in the refugee camps say they can no longer coexist with outsiders. As Assam tribals and Muslims both comprise formidable votebanks for the ruling Congress, there is extreme reluctance to admit the existence of a deep ethno-communal fault-line.” – Sandhya Jain

BodosLast month’s violence in Kokrajhar district, Assam, which resulted in 77 dead (so far) and nearly four lakh uprooted from home, their humble hearths torched to cinders, possibly to prevent them from returning to reclaim the vacated lands, was both the consequence of the sharply changing population profile in India’s eastern States, and an attempt to perpetuate and entrench the demographic shift.

The Centre’s attempt to negate the “communal” angle by calling it an “ethnic” problem was disingenuous, if not unfair and incorrect. It hardly inspired confidence that the first to meet the Prime Minister on the issue was an all-party delegation of Muslim MPs, lobbying, of course, for the intruders.

The incontrovertible fact is that the violence involved the tribal Bodos (who have close cultural affinity with Assam’s other tribes and Hindu groups) and Muslim immigrants from present-day Bangladesh, who came in droves over the past century, and are still entering the State in quest of land and livelihood. They have been aided and abetted by lax border security (it’s a 3,437 km long border), helpful co-religionists, and political parties nurturing reliable vote-banks. The Assam Riotsresult has been a steady squeezing of the native population from the most fertile lands, which caused the intense flare-up of the 1980s and the Bodo agitation of the 1990s. But no lessons were learnt.

The current dispute began on July 6 when two Muslims were murdered in Kokrajhar, followed on July 20 by the killing of four Bodo activists in retaliation. Thereafter, the violence escalated leading to a predominantly Bodo exodus from their villages, and the torching of their hutments. To the surprise of their tormentors, however, the Bodos unexpectedly returned a few days later and indulged in tit-for-tat torching of rival settlements. Rattled, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi blamed the UPA Government at the Centre for delayed deployment of forces.

In a nutshell, this seems to be the root cause of the administration’s tardiness in curbing the violence. The Bodos had been driven out of their lands, and were not expected to return soon. Quick Army deployment would keep people in the camps. The delayed deployment plus the unexpected return of the Bodos in militant mood turned the tables on aggressors and administration alike.

Hagrama MohilaryBodo leader Hagrama Mohilary claims that armed Bangladeshis from across the international border incited the violence; Bodos in the refugee camps say they can no longer coexist with outsiders. As Assam tribals and Muslims both comprise formidable vote-banks for the ruling Congress, there is extreme reluctance to admit the existence of a deep ethno-communal fault-line. Caught in a cleft, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi has told the people to be prepared for a longish stay in the camps.

The conflict centres on land. For over four decades, government char land, traditional grazing lands, and forest areas, have been encroached by illegal migrants in connivance with district officials at the cost of the indigenous people. Besides Bodos, other tribal communities affected by ethnic cleansing and territorial encroachments include the Karbi, Khasi, Jaintiya, Dimasa and nearly 50 others. Hagrama Mohilary says Bodoland Territorial Areas District is governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and tribal bloc rules and regulations apply. But no one is listening. – Vijayvaani, 17 August 2012

Indian Army

See all reports here

  1. Assam Riots : Violence spreads to more Assam districts (17 August 2012)
  2. Assam Riots : Fresh violence erupts, NE natives fleeing Indian cities due to threat by Muslims (16 August 2012)
  3. Assam Riots : Govt. will make every effort to understand reasons, says PM (15 August 2012)
  4. Assam Riots : Return of Assam refugees will take some time, says Sonia Gandhi (13 August 2012)
  5. Assam Riots : Hindu Victims say ‘If we go back, they will kill us’ (11 August 2012)
  6. Assam riots : 4 more bodies found, toll rises to 71; 15 died in relief camps (9 August 2012)
  7. Assam riots : 4 more killed, toll rises to 67; 14 died in relief camps (7 August 2012)
  8. Assam riots : 5 more killed in Fresh violence, toll rises to 63 (5 August 2012)
  9. Assam riots: P Chidambaram promises victims rehabilitation and security (31 July 2012)
  10. Assam riots : PM announces relief package, call Riots as ‘Blot on India’ (29 july 2012)
  11. Assam riots: ‘Gogoi blames Congress, why don’t PM reply?’ (28 July 2012)
  12. Assam riots : 58 killed, 4 lakhs homeless; PM, Sonia visit Assam week after violence (28 July 2012)
  13. Assam riots: Violence erupts again; relief camp torched, woman shot dead (27 July 2012)
  14. HJS demands to foil the attempts of Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators to capture Assam (26 July 2012)
  15. Assam riots live: Relief camps struggling to cope with influx (26 July 2012)
  16. Assam riots continue : 41 killed, CM to visit Kokrajhar relief camps (26 July 2012)
  17. Assam riots live: Relief camps have no medicine or security ? (25 July 2012)
  18. Hindu-Muslim Assam riots continue; 32 dead, 1.5 lakh homeless (25 July 2012)
  19. Assam riots Live: State minister stopped from entering Bodo area (July 24, 2012)
  20. Assam : Riots between Bangladeshi Muslims & Natives; 20 killed, thousands flee homes ( July 24, 2012)
  21. Assam : Thousands flee after riots between Hindus and Bangladeshi Muslims (July 23, 2012)

One Response

Comments are moderated

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: