Anti-Muslim riots in North Assam
Guwahati: Anti-Muslim violence erupted in north Assam in early October between militant Bodo tribals and Muslims in which an estimated 150 Muslims have been killed so far, hundreds have been injured, mostly women and children, and around 150,000 Muslims have been made homeless. They are now living in temporary camps which lack basic amenities and sanitation. The violence is almost totally one sided and almost official as the Bodo militants attacking Muslims are actually “Surrendered Security Battallion” (SSB) which is the security force of the autonomous Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) and consists of the former Bobo militants who have been absorbed in an official security force in the wake of the settlement of February 2003. Worst areas are the districts of Darang, Udalgiri and Gwalpara which are considered communally sensitive areas. About 60 villages have been emptied of their Muslim population as a result of these attacks. Several hundred houses and other immovable properties have been set on fire. The new refugees join the earlier 45,000 refugees who are displaced since 1993.
National Highway No. 52 has been closed and curfew has been clamped in various localities. Order has also been given to shoot at site. These physical attacks are synchronised with media attack on the Muslims of Assam as they are dubbed as “Bangladeshis” without any proof. In addition to NE TV and Times Now, all local channels and newspapers are unashamedly dubbing these Muslims as “Bangladeshis” even as the Assam government denies these charges. Even PTI is parrotting these cliches.
A number of injured persons have been admitted in Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, condition of many of whom is very serious. State government is unable to control the riotous situation. Udalgiri's Police Superintendent has been suspended and replaced by Manoj Agarwal. Another officer Abu Sufian has been given the charge of maintaining law and order in the affected areas. It may be stated here that the state of unrest has in fact been prevailing for the past one and a half months and in spite of deployment of large contingents of CRPF, army and imposition of curfew etc, end of violence is nowhere in sight. Influential Muslims in letters to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil have appealed for immediate intervention by centre to bring the situation under control.
Bodos in order to extend their land to form a larger Bodoland have joined hands with communal Hindu organsations like Bajrang Dal, VHP. They are openly telling Muslims that they are “Bangladeshis” and hence must quit India. Since the Congress government of the state stands with the help of Bodos crutches, it cannot do anything against the Bodos for fear of Bodos removing the crutches.
(With inputs from AH Imran, editor, The Qalam Weekly)
victims of anti-muslim violence in Assam: 1,17,000 homeless people are now living in about 44 Relief Camps