Assam violence due to Bodo-Muslim feud: Minorities body

Assam violence
The violence in Assam was a result of clashes between Bodos and "resident Muslims" and not Bangladeshi immigrants, the National Commission for Minorities has said while recommending setting up of an SIT to probe major incidents of violence in the state.

NCM Chairperson Wajahat Habibullah said that the Commission has sent the report on the clashes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and had personally taken up the matter with him during the Iftar party hosted by him yesterday.

"The Prime Minister told me that he has received the report," Habibullah said.

The panel said the conflict this time "was not between some exodus of Bangladeshi immigrants and the Bodos, but between Bodos and the resident Muslims of the BTAD".

Of course, some infiltration is taking place in all pockets of Assam all the time, but there has been no sudden influx from Bangladesh to trigger off such a major conflict, it said, pointing out that "when Muslims abandoned their villages, their houses were looted and gutted (which) might indicate a design to see that they do not return to their own villages."

The Commission members also brought to the notice of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi the "danger of Muslims in the BTC becoming militants in the future, in case their security was not ensured".

"There can be grave danger in future in case militant Jihadi outfits from the rest of the country start supplying lethal weapons in this area... Remedial action was necessary in view of the fact that conflicts in which Bodos were involved have been taking place over the last 15 years.

Administration and the police especially have to deal with recalcitrants forcefully," the panel said.

The team comprising Member Planning Commission, Syeda Hameed, Advisor G B Panda, and NCP Member NCM, Keki N Daruwalla visited Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) and Kokrajhar, Gossain Gaon and Dhubri district between July 11 and July 12.

The Commission says the state needs to provide intermediate shelters to the victims in Assam such as those provided to Tsunami victims in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"The idea of investigating major incidents by setting up SIT needs to be considered. This will restore confidence in the justice delivery system," it said.

On the role of the police, the Commission members said they were left with the distinct impression that the lower rungs of the police were afraid of taking action against the Bodos, possibly because of the armaments they possessed and the fact that they ruled the area.

"The police must be more forceful with both Bodos and Muslim criminals," they said in the report, adding had strong action been taken by the police after the small incidents earlier, this conflict could have been avoided.

The Commission also recommended that the issuance of ID cards should be legitimised to promote transparency in giving entitlements.

The panel said that most people feel that this strife is caused because Bodos think that "driving out other ethnic people is in their interest. The Bodo population is near the 30 percent mark in the area. They feel that if their population goes up to 50 percent and more they will be able to demand statehood for Bodo Land".

Though the panel felt it was "possibly a fallacious premise", it said," there is a big rumour that Bodos will strongly oppose the return of those Muslim refugees who have left the BTAD. This would mean all those in camps in Dhubri district (which is not a part of the BTAD) may find it difficult to go back to their villages.

Recommending that any such obstruction by the Bodos needs to be stoutly resisted by the administration, the Commission also felt that some "political dialogue" with Bodos and Hagrama Mahilary, the Chief Executive of the BTAD was absolutely essential.

"The Bodos need to be told firmly that they cannot under any circumstances engineer a mass exodus of non-Bodos. Nor would they ever get statehood this way. The Chief Minister was was requested to kindly consider taking up the matter himself with the Bodo Council," the report said.

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