With violence resurfacing between indigenous Bodo tribe and suspected illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Bodo heartland of Assam after a lull of few days, Lower Assam in on boil again and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has called for CBI probe into the clashes.
Arson and rioting had been reported from Chirang district, one of the four Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD), in past 72 hours which resulted in death of at least 6 persons. Houses were also torched by rioters in Chirang district. “The situation in strife-torn Kokrajhar and Chirang districts is presently tensed and flag marches and patrol by Army were continuing in the district. Chirang district has been put under indefinite curfew and other riot-hit areas of lower Assam have been put under night-curfew,” said a senior police officer.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the death toll in the clashes has reached 73 and more than 4 lakh have been displaced. However, there is a growing concern over the swelling number of Muslim inmates in relief camps. Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) deputy chief, Kampa Borgoyari, said the number of Muslim inmates in Kokrajhar district itself was significantly more than the total Muslim population of the district. A section feels that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were flocking to relief camps with the hope of getting land during the rehabilitation process and settle down as Indian citizens post riots. The BTC has called for strict scrutiny of identity of inmates before rehabilitating them.
On Monday Gogoi, who had been on record denying any existence of illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in relief camps for all these days, also talked of rehabilitating those who had been genuinely displaced. “Not all those staying at relief camps would be rehabilitated. We will only rehabilitate those who had been displaced,” said Gogoi. He said nearly 1 lakh inmates have returned back to their homes from relief camps in areas where there have been significant let-up in violence.
Gogoi also called for CBI probe into the clashes, stating there “might be some external force behind the violence.”
He has also constituted a group of ministers, headed by revenue minister Prithibi Majhi, to oversee and coordinate relief and rehabilitation in the violence-affected areas.
Three out of four districts of BTAD – Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa, and adjoining districts of Bongaigaon and Dhubri (all in Lower Assam) have been affected by ongoing riots. BTAD, which also comprises of Udalguri, and formed following the signing of the historic Bodo Accord in 2003, witnessed similar flare-up in 2008.
There has always been a simmering tension in BTAD due to unabated influx of illegal Bangladeshis, which was posing a serious challenge to the demographic profile of the area, as it was doing to the whole of Assam. All the four BTAD districts are bodo-tribe-inhabited districts.