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Ethnic riots part of Kokrajhar history,but no lesson learnt

Kokrajhar is back in the news again,and as usual,because of another round of ethnic violence

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
July 25, 2012 12:28:11 am

Kokrajhar is back in the news again,and as usual,because of another round of ethnic violence.

“The situation has definitely deteriorated,” admits Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Donald Gilfelon,who,as the head of the district,has been reduced to a mute spectator with very little direction apparently going out from Dispur,the state capital. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi,who is also the Home Minister,should have rushed to the violence-affected districts. Instead,he has deputed his ministers,who are mostly holed up in Kokrajhar town as more and more villages continue to burn.

Over 100 villages have come under attack,houses burnt,granaries razed,domestic animals either killed or taken away. Over 50,000 people — Bodos as well as migrant Muslims — have taken shelter in relief camps.

Trouble apparently began in the Bodoland districts — the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was created following the second Bodo Accord of 2003 — when two Muslim youths,Nurul Haque and Mazibur Rahman,were shot by unidentified miscreants on July 6 at Anthihara. The needle of suspicion was pointed at the cadres of the now defunct Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT),whose top leaders formed Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) after signing of the Bodo Accord and are now ruling the BTC. The BPF has been an ally of the Congress since 2006.

While the culprits remained untraceable,four members of the erstwhile BLT were hacked to death by unidentified persons in Joypur outside Kokrajhar town. What followed is a full-scale riot involving the migrant Muslims on one side,the Bodo tribals on the other.

Kokrajhar has a history of riots and violence. While violence became part of the All Bodo Students’ Union’s Bodoland movement of 1987 when one section took up arms and went underground,it were a few Assamese-speaking people who were targeted in the initial phase. In 1993,‘Bodoland’ — as the Bodo-dominated districts have come to be known — witnessed the first big massacre,when 50 persons were killed — all Muslims of East Bengal/East Pakistan origin,in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. In May 1994,the next bout of violence hit migrant Muslims,leaving over 100 dead. Hundreds of families uprooted then are still living in relief camps. The violence of 1996 left over 2.2 lakh people homeless and nearly 200 dead. This time it was between the Bodos and the Adivasi settlers. In 2008,migrant Muslims and Bodo tribals clashed in Udalguri district,leading to over 100 deaths.

Surprisingly,the Assam government has failed to learn lessons from the series of violence.

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