Piecemeal steps won’t buy peace in Kokrajhar

Semi Column

Hardly one week after Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi patted himself on the back, saying his government had managed to ensure that over 4.46 lakh people displaced in the violence that rocked Kokrajhar and adjoining districts in July-August this year had returned to their homes, fresh incidents of killings have recurred in the area.

At least 10 persons have been killed in a span of little more than a week, finally forcing the government to impose curfew across the Kokrajhar district and call in the Army.

While these are temporary measures, what has eluded the state is a permanent solution to the vexed problem arising out of the presence of alleged illegal migrants — "in large numbers", as Bodo People's Front chief and Tarun Gogoi ally Hagrama Mohilari have been claiming — in the Bodoland districts.

The marked difference in the pattern so far is that unlike in July-August, this time the miscreants have targeted individual persons instead of setting villages on fire.

Such violence involving migrant Muslim settlers and the Bodo tribal community had earlier occurred in 2008 in Udalguri and adjoining Darrang districts too, and while the authorities did identify several hundred families who had no papers and documents to prove they were genuine Indian citizens, nobody knows what happened to those families in the subsequent years.

In Kokrajhar too, the government promised that no family would be rehabilitated without proper verification of land and citizenship documents. The Bodoland Territorial Council, which governs four Bodoland districts including Kokrajhar, had even rejected papers okayed by the state government, saying there were doubts about the credentials of several hundred families seeking rehabilitation. But there has been no news of even one family found to be without such documents.

Till a genuine attempt is made to actually allay the fears of the Bodo tribals, as also apprehensions in the minds of people of the minority community, peace in these sensitive areas is likely to remain just an interlude between violent eruptions. Particularly given the large number of illegal arms available with both communities, a fact acknowledged by the DGP himself.

... contd.

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