Text of a statement issued by Civil Society Groups and Concerned Citizens
5th May 2014
Condemn the Massacre in Assam, Demand immediate arrest of Pramila Rani Brahma; Ensure safety of Muslims in BTAD: A Statement by Civil Society Groups, Activists and Concerned Citizens
We, the undersigned, express our profound sense of grief and alarm over the gruesome massacre of Bengali-speaking Muslims on 2nd May. This most recent round of killings — in which 32 people, mostly women and children have lost their lives – is another link in the long and… bloody sequence of ethnic cleansing being carried out by tribal Bodo militant groups with impunity.
For years, Hindutva politics has successfully created the bogey of the ‘Bangladeshi’, rendering Muslims as suspects and targets, locked in a perpetual battle with the tribal Bodos. In his rally at Silchar, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate reiterated precisely this. He said: “There are two kinds of people who came from Bangladesh to Assam: those brought as part of a political conspiracy for vote bank politics of a particular party (Muslims) and others who were harassed in the neighbouring country (Hindus). Those brought for vote bank politics and smugglers must be pushed back, while the second category must be accommodated.” (Silchar, 22nd February). Continue reading Condemn the Massacre in Assam: A Statement by Civil Society Groups, Activists and Concerned Citizens
Guest post by SABA SHARMA
Since the evening of the 1st of May, it has been reported that at least 23 people have been killed in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts in Assam, administered under the Bodoland Territorial Council. All the victims were from the Muslim community, and were allegedly shot by the militant Bodo group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), named after its ruthless leader Songbijit, from the Karbi Anglong area in Assam. Indefinite curfew has been imposed here and in neighbouring districts as well, as rumours of other killings and beatings filter in, impossible to separate from facts in the atmosphere of panic that currently prevails.
Polling ended in the Kokrajhar constituency in Assam on the 24th of April, ending a temporary sense of calm and normalcy. Ethnic violence between Bodos and Bengali Muslims took place in July 2012, majorly affecting Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri district. Nearly 5 lakh people were displaced from their homes, and most did not return until January 2013, staying in relief camps, too afraid to return. Once the camps were formally shut down and people returned to their homes, normalcy was still a distant reality. An economic boycott imposed by Bodo leaders on the Bengali Muslim community meant that agricultural labour, a primary occupation for Bengali Muslims, was all but non-existent. In the last year, this economic boycott has slowly been relaxed in some areas, while in other areas, it prevails as strongly as ever. In most areas, markets were among the first spaces to become mixed again, an almost neutral zone where people began to interact with one another again. But in other markets, like Koila Moila bazaar in Chirang, Muslims are still ‘banned’. Continue reading The Carnage in Kokrajhar: Saba Sharma
The Times of India reports that Nilim Dutta has been arrested by the police in Assam on charges of financial fraud and impersonation. The Indian Express reports:
“While there are now six cases registered against him in Guwahati, what we have gathered is that the Delhi Police had also registered a case against him last year,” Assam DGP J N Choudhury told The Indian Express. [Link]
Dutta announced his own arrest on Twitter some days ago, claiming the police had assaulted his family and him, and so on.
I first discovered Nilim Dutta on Twitter in July or August last year. Bodo groups in Kokrajhar and other BTAD area of Assam had killed Muslims and driven them out, many of whom still live in refugee camps there, too afraid to go home. Intellectual cover to this pogrom was being given not only by the mainstream media but also in social media by Hindutva fanatics, with the excuse that all Mulims in Assam are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Dutta had been tweeting against this claim, and published a rebuttal to one such claim by a Bodo IAS officer in the Indian Express.
I thus invited Dutta to write a long piece for Kafila, which was published here on 16 August. “The Myth of the Bangladeshi” became a very popular piece, initiating many discusssions and disagreements in Assam, Delhi and elsewhere. Hindutva fanatics who were unsettled by Dutta’s excellent piece in Kafila and similar pieces elsewhere, and his appearance in TV channels and so on. Now that Dutta is arrested on charges of financial fraud, these people are saying on Twitter and elsewhere that this nullifies Dutta’s claims about Muslims/’Bangladeshis’ in Assam. Continue reading On the arrest of Nilim Dutta
EVEN though tensions were apparently simmering for many months prior to the outbreak of the violence in the month of July 2012 in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) area, but the immediate trigger was the killing of two Muslim youths, who were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 6 July. The needle of suspicion pointed to the former cadres of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). In retaliation, four former cadres of Bodo Liberation Tigers were hacked to death by a mob in the Muslim dominated village of Joypur near Kokrajhar town. What unfolded after that was the worst humanitarian crisis to have hit Assam in decades. Continue reading The Bodoland (Assam) Violence and the Politics of Explanation by Bonojit Hussain
This press release was put out by MY-FACTS, Guwahati, on 3 September 2012
As a response and being aggrieved over the communalisation of the recent violence and mass displacement in BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts) area and in order to analyse the situation, on 2 September, 2012 about 60 highly educated, secular and liberal Muslim youths from all over Assam assembled at the Bhagabhati Prashad Baruah Bhaban, Guwahati, Assam, to brainstorm about a peaceful solution for the present scenario of hatred and violence prevailing in Assam that is spreading all over the country. The meeting was convened under the aegis of a newly formed platform named MY-FACTS (Muslim Youths: Forum Against Communalism, Terrorism and Sedition). Continue reading Muslim youths launch peace forum in Assam
The following is the text of a Statement issued in Delhi on 27 July 2012, endorsed by a number of concerned organizations and individuals
We the people from various parts of northeast residing in Delhi, along with concerned individuals, university members, various students’, teachers’, trade union, women’s, civil and human rights organisations from Delhi, strongly condemn the ongoing ethnic conflict with serious communal undertone that has erupted in four districts (Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Bongaigaon) of Lower Assam. This has been the most widespread and alarming conflict in the recent history of Assam.
In the last one week we have witnessed the tragedy of nearly 200,000 people belonging to the Bodo and the Muslim communities, being forced to flee from their homes and villages. Currently they stand internally displaced, and are scarred and traumatized. Official figures state that around 41 people have lost their lives so far, while unofficial estimates from the grounds are much higher. More than 400 villages have been torched down until now. Continue reading On the ongoing ethnic violence in Assam: A Statement