Death by “minority appeasement policy” not “communal conflagration”
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he gruesome killings this week in Assam’s Baksa district where Bodo militants gunned down 32 innocent people including infants is at once both horrific and ominous. At the heart of the killings is the highly suspicious involvement of leaders of the Bodoland People’s Front, a constituent of the Congress government in Assam. Its Chairman is Hagrama Mohillary, a militant turned politician. Mohillary was Chairman of the Bodo Liberation Tigers, before they laid down their arms and ammunition in 2003 by signing the Bodo Accord. Subsequently he formed the Bodoland People’s Front.
An umbrella group of 21 non-Bodo organisations have attributed Thursday’s violence to BPF legislator Pramila Rani Brahma’s view on April 30 that her party candidate (for Kokrajhar seat) and Assam minister Chandan Brahma could find it hard to win because Muslims did not vote for him. Violence had preceded polling in Kokrajhar on April 24. Muslims are a major constituent of this group that fielded Naba Kumar alias Hira Sarania, a former United Liberation Front of Asom rebel, as an independent candidate in Kokrajhar. Non-Bodos including other tribes have never won this seat despite constituting two-thirds of the population.“BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary is responsible for instigating his cadres to attack non-Bodo villagers, particularly Muslims, because his party has realised it could lose the Kokrajhar seat,” Sarania said. But Mohilary on Sunday, refuted Sarania’s claim, saying “BPF was not responsible for the killings. We urge the religious minorities not to flee their villages. We will provide them protection,” he said.
The Assam police suspect the Sangbijit National Democratic Front of Boroland behind the attacks.”The assailants used automatic weapons and set several villages on fire,” said AP Rout, ADG (law and order). The centre has also sought strong action against NDFB(S) for bloodshed and instigating people to indulge in riots. “
Whichever way the diabolical act is viewed it cannot remove the role of both the Centre and the Assam government. At the heart of the repeated failure of the state government to prevent such killings is allowing Assam to become in the words of the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde a state where a “full-fledged communal conflagration” is becoming the motive of such attacks. For all the posturing and platitudes being offered by the Centre and the state governments the fact remains that the recent violence in Assam was waiting to happen.The government had been warned and alerted as early as mid April before the Lok Sabha polls were held that the environment prevailing in the Bodo areas was going to lead to a blood bath. Yet no action or preventive measures were kept in place. It may be recalled that it was reported (also in Eastern Mirror) of a two member delegation team comprising Pramod Boro, President of All Bodo Students Union and Bhramon Baglari working President of UDPF representing the All Bodo Students Union, Bodoland Peoples Progressive Front (BPPF), United Democratic People’s Front (UDPF) and People Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) visited New Delhi to meet and made a submission to Mr. V. S. Sampath the Chief Election Commissioner of India and Mr Hari Shankar Brahma Election commissioner of India on 17th April 2014.
They held a meeting with the top ranking officers of the Election Commission where the delegates informed the authorities about their apprehension of the Bodoland People’s Party led by its Chairman Mr Hagrama Mohillary,
The delegates apprised the Election Commission members that since its inception the BPF has been indulging in all sorts of subversive and violent activities by way of intimidation, arson, killing, etc. terrorising the people in every election held in the year 2005 (BTC election), 2006 (Legislative Assembly), 2009 (lok Sabha), and 2011(Legislative Assembly) where 82 persons were killed, 34 widows grabbed in uncertain future, 75 Children were badly affected and the common people suffered from untold miseries.
The delegates placed on record their apprehension and therefore to ensure that a repeat of such intimidation did not take place, hey had urged that this time effective measures must be put in place by the authorities.
Their suggestion included the concrete steps to seize all illegal arms, to keep strict vigil on every movement of Hagrama Mohillary and his party workers, to take necessary action against the erring police officials, to nab the culprits and punished them according to the law of the land, to protect life and property of the citizens and to make necessary arrangements to ensure the holding of free, fair and peaceful election.
But in the after math of the mayhem none of these apprehensions expressed will be viewed or scrutinized in the manner they deserve.
The dilemma in the Bodo areas is the growing mistrust between the Bodos and the migrant Muslims in the BTC area.
The fear of the BPF losing to Independent candidate Naba Kumar alias Hira Sarania,( a former United Liberation Front of Asom ) supported by the non Bodo groups in the heart of Bodoland in Kokrajhar could well explain political rivalry. But the degree of the violence perpetuated spills over into insecurity ironically of the group which holds the power of authority but fearful of the population explosion of the “minority” race.
This despite the Bodos, arguably the oldest inhabitants of Assam, running the affairs of a territorial council created in order to give them the best possible autonomy within the State to govern their destiny. As many as 30 seats out of the 46 seats in the BTC have been reserved for the Bodos but instead of exerting authority the fear that they will be over -run by the population of the migrant Muslims of East Bengal/East Pakistan/Bangladesh origin.
But while the killings cannot be condoned in any manner, the fear may not be misplaced. The group viewed as “minority” as the Bodos know only too well, enjoy a strong ‘secular’ shield for vote–banks from political parties. This is the tragedy of the indigenous people of Assam — a tragedy over which analysts fear Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh, as well as the ISI’s wing there, will view with amusement before a similar retaliatory diabolic anti–Assam mission or anti –India mission is launched.
It is imperative for the state government to get to the bottom of the recurring violence in the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District, and return the area to normalcy by instilling confidence in the minds of the people.