People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 31

July 05, 2012





Frenzied Violence in Assam

Isfaqur Rahman


ASSAM continues to burn. The multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-national state, once again, witnessed horrible incidents of ethnic-communal violence in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) since the eruption of hostilities among different communities – mainly between the Bodos and Muslim minorities – from the first week of July. Since July 19, lower Assam’s Kokrajhar and Chirang districts under BTAD administration and adjoining Dhubri district have been experiencing the worst form of frenzied violence. At least 60 persons, including children and women, have been killed. Several others  remained untraced till the filing of this report (August 1, 2012). Moreover, nearly 4 lakh people have taken shelter in 274 relief camps. In the four districts – Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Bongaigaon in western Assam  – a total of 244 villages and 45,000 families were affected and five thousand houses were burnt to ashes.


For quite a long time, there were simmering tensions between different ethnic groups residing in the BTAD areas. The politics of identity have also been playing havoc. There were demands for further vivisection of Assam and creation of a separate ‘Bodoland state’. There were also demands for a ‘Kamatapur state’ raised by a section of Rajbongshi people. Communal and fundamentalist forces were also at work. Various non-Bodo organisations oppose “Bodoland” and demand redrawing of the BTAD areas by excluding certain villages where non-Bodos are overwhelming majority. The security and safety of the people was also a cause for concern. Mutual distrust, ill-faith and ill-feelings among different groups and communities prevailed for quite some time now.




On July 6,  two poor Muslim peasants were killed by unidentified gunmen at Mussalmanpara near Bhowraguri under Dotoma police station in Kokrajhar district. When tension was brewing after this incident, two student leaders of the Minority Students’ Union were attacked in Magurmari near Kokrajhar on July 19. This was followed by the killing of four former Bodo Liberation Tiger workers on July 20 at Jaypur-Namapara near Kokrajhar town – the headquarters of BTAD administration. The eruption of violence and counter-violence started soon after and spread to the interior areas. Ironically, both Bodo and Muslim leaders see a design in the orchestrated violence which spread like wild fire. Now the situation is quite disturbing as the cycle of violence has communal implications and unless tackled with a firm hand, it might well trigger a large scale communal flare-up in the state. The state administration will have to exhibit greater alacrity in preventing any further  escalation of violence. The state and central governments must take a serious note of the developments and ensure security and safety to all sections of the people.


As a matter of fact, the volatile law and order situation in the BTAD areas has been a matter of concern for quite some time now with extortions, killings and kidnappings assuming alarming proportions. While the situation warrants firm handling by both the BTC and the state government, it is precisely the lax attitude of the authorities that has largely been responsible for the growing lawlessness in Bodoland areas, allowing extremist outfits as well as surrendered ultras to have a free run. Easy availability of firearms with the militant outfits has been a major factor perpetuating a situation of strife and tension in BTAD. From extremist and surrendered extremists to every other trouble mongers, firearms have an all pervasive presence in the BTAD. Muslim fundamentalist forces are also no less active. The overall situation in BTAD areas is characterised by a growing cult of violence and fratricidal killings. The progress that the creation of the BTC was supposed to usher in will remain a mirage unless there is an end to the prevailing gun culture.




Notwithstanding a slight improvement following deployment of security forces, the situation in the strife-torn BTAD and adjoining Dhubri continues to be extremely disturbing with more and more bodies of riot-hit victims being recovered. There have also been incidents of arson at places, with people fleeing their homes and hearths in their hordes. People are taking shelter in hoplessly inadequate relief camps – without food and drinking water. Restoration of normalcy, peace and harmony in the days ahead will certainly pose a Herculean challenge before the government. Physical rehabiliation apart, the trauma suffered by the affected people – both Bodos and Muslims – will take a long time to heal as will the breached trust between the two communities.


It may be recalled that communal violence of similar scale had affected Udalguri district in october, 2008. But the authoritics failed to learn anything from it. The current carnage could well have been avoided but for the inexplicable laxity of the authorities in nabbing the culprits behind the incidents of frenzied violence perpetrated by the trouble mongers of both the communities.

The BJP and its saftorn  brigade have been trying to fish in troubled waters and blaming the illegal Bangladeshi migrants for the violence. The Bodo People’s Front (BPF), a coalition partner of the Congress-led government in Assam, has also echoed similar sentiments. Even the BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary has stated  that the violence is being perpetrated by an organised gang of illegal infiltrators from across the Bangladesh border. But saner sections have maintained that this is a wild allegation and gross distortion of facts. Even the central and state governments have ruled out the possibility of a foreign hand behind the riots.


Terming the largescale ethnic violence in Assam as a ‘blot on the nation’, prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 300 crore Central Relief Package for the violence-hit people after visiting two relief camps at Kokrakhar on July 28. But considering the woes and sufferings, death and destruction, this meagre amount will not serve the purpose.




A three member team of the CPI(M) MPs, including the leader of the CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha, Basudev Acharia, visited Kokrajhar and Bijni on July 28 to take stock of the situation. The other two MPs were Bajuban Riang and Saidul Haque. The delegation was accompanied by the state leaders of the CPI(M) including the state secretary Uddhab Barman and two other former MLAs,  Purna Boro and Ananta Deka, and also state secretariat members, Monoranjan Talukdar and Fazlur Rahman. The delegation met cross-section of the people, visited relief camps and exchanged views with the inmates.


The delegation first visited the relief camp at Kakritola M E School (Nayek Gaon) in Kokrajhar where more than 3000 people belonging to the Bodo communities of 17 villages are taking shelter. The CPI(M) delegation also visited Bangaldoba village which was completely burnt down on July 23-24.

The delegation was shocked to see the Nayabhita village where the houses of around 200 Muslim families were completely gutted on  July 22. The incident of arson and looting took place near the Dotoma police station, which was hardly 50 meters away.


Later, the CPI(M) delegation moved to Bijni and visited a relief camp at Bijni Motilal Bagaria M V School where 900 Muslims, including 200 children, were taking shelter. It also visited a Bodo camp at Bijni College.


After visiting the violence-hit areas, the CPI(M) delegation held a press conference at the state headquarters of the Party in Guwahati on July 29. Addressing the media persons, Basudev Acharia stated the experience of the Party delegation. Bajuban Riang and Saidul Haque also addressed along with Party state secretary Uddhab Barman and senior Party leader Hemen Das. The CPI(M) leaders expressed grave shock and consternation at the horrific incidents of violence and destruction. They charged that the Congress-led dispensation in Assam was totally caught off guard by the carnage. The state government has even failed to protect the life and property of the people and discharge its constitutional responsibilities.  


The law enforcing machinery was a silent spectator in many places to the gruesome incidents of killing and arson. For inexplicable reasons, deployment of security forces were delayed by at least a couple of days – something that caused escalation of violence and the resultan destructions, including loss of lives. It is also not understood why the central government too failed to assess the gravity of the situation. Tension had been brewing in BTAD for quite some time but both the BTAD authorities and the state government chose to remain blind to the spectre of possible carnage while the situation warranted reinforcement of police and security forces. The delegation leaders said that the relief camps were being run without proper food materials and other essentials. Even baby foods were not provided adequately. The administration should ensure supply of essentials including medical service to the inmates in the relief camps, the CPI(M) leaders demanded.


The press note issued by the CPI(M) on this occasion stated, ‘At the present critical juncture, the first and foremost task is to check violence with a firm hand and restore peace and unity among all sections of the people. The government must ensure full security and make arrangement for immediate rehabilitation and safe return  of the people to their own place of residence. Adequate compensation, relief and rehabilitation to the affected people must be ensured on a war-footing. The relief measures announced by the prime minister and the chief minister should immediately be implemented.


‘The CPI (M) appeals to all sections of the people of the trouble-torn areas to resist fratricidal clashes and to restore peace and tranquillity at any cost for building mutual trust and confidence. All sections of the people must defeat the forces of division and reaction and strengthen the unity and harmony in the area.’


The CPI(M) has also been organising peace processions, meetings etc. at different places of the state includimg Guwahati, Rangia, Barpeta Road, Sorbhog, Kalgachia, Dhekiajuli, Tezpur, Sarthebari. It has appealed to all sections of the people  to restore normalcy and maintain peace and amity. The Party also demanded that the state government’s priority should be to instill a sense of security to the people, restore peace and harmony and provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected people.