By Mr. Nupur Das:
The situation seems to be under control after heavily armed security guards were deployed in the tensed area of BTAD (Bodo Territorial Autonomous District) of Assam, rehabilitation measures were set up and the CM of Assam called for NIA probe into the killings of the poor people by the Bodo militant group of NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland- Songhbijit faction) on 2nd and 3rd may. Unlike the 2012 Assam riots, where there was a clash between the two communities of people, Bodos and the non Bodo population, where thousands were left homeless and many killed, this time it was an attack by members of the militant group NDFB (S) by open firing on unarmed and innocent people in broad daylight. According to latest reports, 33 people had died out of which many were children and women, including a two year old.
Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) was formed after the then militant group Bodo Liberation Tigers Front,Â thatÂ was demanding for an independent Bodoland state, reached an agreement with the state and central government to surrender arms and adopt a democratic means to come to power. The newly formed party BPF (Bodoland Peopleâ€ŸsFront) has been an ally of the ruling congress party in Assam. The separatist outfit NDFB, which is now divided into two faction – one led by Ranjan Daimary which is in ceasefire and on negotiation tables with the central and state government, the other faction NDFB (S) which has declined to come to peace agreements and has continued to create havoc in the BTAD region, terrorising and killing innocent people and conducting extortion drives from people, especially the non-Bodo population of the BTAD. The entire North East region has been paralysed due to conflict since years. In the BTAD region, the gun culture is still very much prevalent. Even surrendered militias are seen keeping arms and ammunition with them with the pretext of their security but creating a sense of insecurity amongst other people, and a “goondaraj” in the region, especially for the non-Bodo population of the region.
This region consists of around one fourth of Bodo tribe population and rest are non-Bodo people consisting of Adivasis, Rajbongshis, other tribes, Bengali speaking Muslims and Bangladeshi immigrants who have settled in these region/areas since many years now. The fact is that Indo-Bangladesh border is a porous one and remains open in many areas where fencing is yet to be completed. However, these immigrants from Bangladesh have now accepted the region as their homeland, accepted the cultures and languages of Assam gradually, though the number of immigrants can be contested as the data of it differs. While the government data shows it to be in thousands and Assam government under the Congress has always denied the presence of any illegally infiltrated Bangladeshis, some civil society groups depict it to be in millions. This problem of immigration has seen a lot of violence and causes of the mass uprisings like the ASSAM movement in 1979-85 which ultimately led to the signing of the Assam Accord between the then AASU leaders under P. K.Mahanta and Rajiv Gandhi led government at the center. This issue of migration can be solved only with a political dialogue involving the opinions of all sections of the society, as one can see the assimilation in the Assamese community already happening and people accepting the migrants and depending upon their labour who are mostly engaged in the lower income level works like street vendors, fishermen, labourers in farmlands and so on.
However, this particular incident of post poll violence erupted after Pramila Rani Brahma, a member of Bodoland People’s Front addressed people saying that the loss of the BPF candidate will be due to the voting of the Muslims for the candidate Hira Sarania, a former ULFA member who was contesting against Chandan Brahma, who has been a cabinet member and an ally of the ruling Congress in Assam. Hira Sarania under Sanmilita Janagostiya Akkhyamancha, which had been mobilising non-Bodo votes, had received support from almost all the non bodo communities of the BTAD region including the ABMSU (All Bodoland Minority Students Union). His candidature was seen asÂ a threat to the BPF s chances of victory.
This incident has witnessedÂ new lows of Indian politicians. While the victims had been undergoing the pain of losing their near ones, the blame game and politicization had already started going to the extent of giving it a communal colour. The Congress blamed Modi’s speech in Bengal, where he had said to accept the Hindu infiltrators but deport the infiltrators belonging to Muslim community. His comment on Bangladeshi issue doesn’t come as a surprise to many as the stand of BJP has been the same since a long time, which is condemnable and a threat to India’s secular values. Then followed Mamta Banerjee’s tricks to woo the voters of the Muslim community in Bengal just before the polls of the last phases and dared Modi to touch any person from Bengal. On the other hand, politicians like Umar Abdullah and Assaudin Owaissi tweet and come to news channels to comment on the issue and giving it a communal colour without knowing the ground realities and the complexities of the region in Assam, and fail to understand that it isÂ not a communal but a demographic issue.
Moreover, shocking news comes when there are reports that the state government of Assam has been considering and planning to give licensed guns to the minorities of the conflicted region of the area. Such a naive and foolish step, if taken, would only lead to more bloodshed as giving arms to the citizens (no matter of which community) will only further the tensions that has been prevailing in those regions. A more pragmatic step would have been to disarm immediately the overground militants who have been always threatening the unarmed people and warn them of dire consequences those who would not help maintain law and order and bring peace. Moreover, the Congress in Assam has failed to take action against Pramila Rani Brahma as BPF has been its ally and they don’t want their political understanding to be at perilous stake no matter what the society undergoes.
During the times when hundreds have been suffering from homelessness and mourning the deaths, our “leaders” were up there playing the blame game instead of coming out together, condemning and accessing the ground realities and complexities of it, punishing the culprits because of whom a common personÂ has been suffering.