(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 02, 2012
HOW IT ALL
Bodo Accord was signed on February 20, 2003 between the Bodo
Liberation Tiger Force, government of
BTAD area has been an insurgency-afflicted area before the
signing of the Accord. After the Accord, although many
insurgent groups declared ceasefire, they are still in
possession of plenty
of sophisticated arms
and ammunition. There were many occasions when incidents of
fratricidal killings took place among the activists and
supporters of the rival armed groups of the Bodos in 2008 and
2009. Moreover, like
recent period, the non-Bodo organisations have raised
allegations that the BTC authority has been depriving the
non-Bodos of the share of developmental activities and
resorting to large-
scale corruption. Some of the non-Bodo organisations have been
agitating and launching movements demanding the redrawing of
the boundary of the BTAD area, excluding the villages where
the non-Bodos are in dominant majority and opposing the demand
of separate Bodoland raised by some Bodo organisations to be carved out of
present state of
As a result, there is an ongoing tussle and simmering tension among the leadership of different Bodo groups over who will have the hegemony among the Bodo people and society. This situation, coupled with an acute sense of deprivation working up among the non-Bodo people and their anger over the extortion, kidnapping and killing by the insurgent outfits and former militant groups, has kept the society very tense. A small incident could ignite clashes between communities. The incidents of July 6, 19 and 20 acted as the ignition elements to the powder keg.
OF THE SITUATION
stalwart L K Advani, who came to
claims have been made that the number of the illegal
Bangladeshis has been growing in leaps and bounds in the state
It is to be noted that in the BTAD areas, most of the Muslims are settlers who settled here after becoming victims of flood and erosion of the Brahmaputra and other rivers. They were rehabilitated here. They have lived in close proximity for many years with other communities, including the Bodos. Even in the midst of the present carnage, Bodos and Muslims are living together in many villages in the affected districts, peacefully standing on guard against the miscreants. Hence, many among Bodos and Muslims suspect the designs of vested interests behind the present carnage.
The exodus of youth of Assam from the cities of southern states has its social and economic impact on Assam. These persons have migrated to those cities for jobs and for study. Though many have remained there, thousands of youth, terrorised by rumours and in few cases by threats as well as by requests from the family, had to make perilous train journeys to reach Assam. Some 11 youth lost their lives at the hands of miscreants during the journey. Not conversant with the current developments in the state centering around the Bodo-Muslim clashes, a section of these youth is fed with communal campaign.
The BJP and other Hindutva forces have been trying to utilise the Bodo-Muslim clashes in the BTAD areas to communalise the entire society in Assam. Many BJP leaders and RSS functionaries have visited Assam and campaigned on the issue of clashes between the ‘native versus illegal Bangladeshis’ and have been trying to rope in some tribal organisations and intellectuals in these hate campaigns. On the other hand, some of the minority leaders, including Badaruddin Ajmal, MP, made provocative statements. They also accused the BPF leadership of engineering these clashes to cleanse out the minority people from the BTAD areas. Some of them demanded dissolution of BTC. To fish in the troubled waters, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad organised communal campaigns and called for an Assam bandh on August 27 demanding the arrest of Badaruddin Ajmal, along with other demands. The RSS has supported the bandh call. In a similar way, some minority organisations have held protest demonstrations against the frequent attacks on the minority people, demanding security and rehabilitation of the displaced people due to the Bodo–Muslim clashes. The two Assam bandh calls -- one by the Bajrang Dal-RSS on August 27 and the other by United Movement for People’s Rights, a platform of 31 organisations including All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) -- have created grounds for communal division as these bandhs were marked with stray violence. As a result of these campaigns and movements, along with the fresh violence associated with these bandhs, the situation in Assam continues to be extremely volatile.
ROLE OF THE
The Assam government -- a Congress-led coalition with BPF -- failed to anticipate the simmering discontent and conflicts brewing in the BTAD areas in recent times because it was complacent after being in power for a decade. So, when the clashes took a serious turn, it failed to act decisively to control and prevent the clashes. Afterwards, curfew was clamped and military and para-military forces deployed on July 24 in the affected districts, bringing the situation under control to a great extent. But it has failed to strengthen and activise the law-enforcing authority in BTAD. The police administration in BTAD remains as weak as before, starved of even adequate number of police personnel.
The prime minister, former home minister P Chidambaram and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by present home minister Shinde, visited the disturbed areas in Assam at different points of time. The prime minister during his visit on July 28 announced a Central Relief Package of Rs 300 crore for relief and rehabilitation of the violence affected people. Other leaders from the centre assured the victims of adequate security, relief materials, medical care and early rehabilitation. But the conditions of the relief camps and the quality of materials supplied are such that many inmates in the camps have become sick and some of them have died. Although the state government has declared that the rehabilitation process would be completed by August 15, it is nowhere near that. In fact the process is facing big hurdles due to lack of security measures and the prevalence of terror and the regular and murderous attacks on those who attempted to go back to their places of residence. The deputation of teams of ministers to the violence–hit areas to monitor the relief and rehabilitation works has so far failed to improve the situation. An all party meeting and a meeting of the editors of the media called by the chief minister to create opinions for restoration of confidence and amity among various sections of people in the affected areas is yet to bear results, as the situation in the BTAD areas is every day worsening due to the activities of the armed groups.
The displaced persons, belonging to both the Bodos and the Muslims, want to go back to their respective places of residences at the earliest, but the laxity in the security measures stands in their way. The state government has claimed that more than two lakh displaced persons have returned to their respective residences. The BPF leadership has put three conditions in the case of rehabilitation: (a) those who have land pattas and names in the electoral lists will get first preference, (b) the second preference will be given to those who have only names in the voters’ lists, (c) the persons without land pattas and names in the voters’ lists will not be allowed to be rehabilitated in the BTAD areas. The state government of Assam maintains that only Indian citizens among the displaced persons will be rehabilitated in the BTAD areas. The central government has also declared that a tripartite committee will be formed to monitor the rehabilitation process. So, it remains to be seen how the state government and the BTC authority will proceed in the rehabilitation process when the armed groups are also active in launching fresh attacks on people belonging to the religious minority. The displaced persons going returning from the relief camps to their places of residence have been brutally attacked and killed in some places by armed gangs. There is speculation that the centre is thinking of handing over some districts of the BTAD to the control of the army.
While condemning the violent ethnic clashes and the failure of the state government in containing the violence, the CPI(M) has tried to mobilise people for restoration of peace and normalcy among the affected people, particularly unity between the Bodos and the Muslims. The priority task in the critical situation is to curb violence and to restore peace and unity among the the people. It has organised peace processions and public meetings in various places, particularly in lower Assam. A meeting of intellectuals and other prominent personalities was organised at Guwahati to mobilise opinion for peace. The Party also called for strengthening of the BTC on the basis of ensuring democratic, cultural and land rights of the people living in BTAD. It has also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister of Assam urging him to take steps to end violence and restore peace and understanding among Bodos and Muslims, to seize the illegal arms and ammunition, to arrange supply of adequate relief materials and medical aid to the victims, to provide security and safety to the people and rehabilitate the displaced people in their own places of residences and compensation for their losses, to restore academic life with free supply of books and uniforms to the students, to help the peasantry with free supply of seedlings, seeds etc’, to speedily update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state taking the 1971 voters’ list as the basis, etc. The Party appeals to all sections of people to come out to prevent fratricidal clashes and to restore peace and normalcy for building confidence and mutual trust. The Party also appeals to the people to fight and defeat the machinations of the divisive and communal forces who are out to disrupt peace and harmony. It also declares its opposition to the dissolution of BTC as demanded by some organidations. The CPI(M) will work for building up unity of all Left, democratic and secular forces and peace-loving people in the state for restoring peace and communal harmony.