8,000 from Assam camp in state, Bengal on high alert


With six camps — sheltering 8,000 homeless people, mostly Muslims from Kokrajhar — located across three north Bengal districts of Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling bordering Assam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed the administration to remain alert. She has also warned against any communal tension in her recent public meetings.

State officials point out that Bengal-Assam border districts have similar population mix as that of Kokrajhar — a large number of Bodos, Rabhas and Rajbanshis. Hence, there is always a fear of ethnic violence. The police are tense because the bordering blocks in Jalpaiguri and Assam have a large population of Bodos and Rabhas. As per the 2001 census, Jalpaiguri has 34,801 Bodos, 10,244 Rabhas and 18, 251 Rajbanshis. The concentration of Bodos is greater in the bordering blocks of Jalpaiguri. Kumargram, for instance, has 7,907 Bodos while Alipurdauar II and Falakata have 4,804 and 4,387 Bodos, respectively.

A police official said, "Chances of provocative action is very high in the area. We have posted police teams in sensitive villages and are monitoring SMSes. Since the density of Bodo and Rabha tribes is high, we have issued a high alert."

Rehab from today

The Assam government will start rehabilitation of the victims of the ethnic clashes from Thursday. The announcement followed a meeting of the state government with Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilari here. Before taking the decision, the state government held an all-party meeting. This is the first time the government held talks with the BTC since the clashes.

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