Mi­grant set­tlers were the in­tended tar­gets.

Army sources say the death count could be five times the of­fi­cially ac­knowl­edged num­ber of 71.

India Today - - COVER STORY -

Start­ing with the de­mand for Uday­achal in the early 1950s to vi­o­lent as­ser­tions for an in­de­pen­dent state af­ter 1987, the Bodo peo­ple have al­ways as­pired for more free­dom. But they are keenly aware that they lack the num­bers, with just over 1 mil­lion, or a third of the BTAD’s 3.1 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion. Nani Gopal Ma­hanta, 43, a for­mer Berke­ley scholar and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Gauhati Univer­sity, traces the ge­n­e­sis of the cur­rent vi­o­lence to the failed Bodoland Ac­cord of 1993 when the then ju­nior min­is­ter for home af­fairs, Ra­jesh Pi­lot, de­clared that state­hood would re­main an im­pos­si­ble dream since Bo­dos were a mi­nor­ity in their own land. “The mes­sage per­co­lated through the col­lec­tive Bodo psy­che and there has since been a con­sis­tent bid to drive away all nonBodo com­mu­ni­ties,” he says.

Udayon Misra, 67, an em­i­nent so­cial sci­en­tist with the Guwahati- based Omeo Ku­mar Das In­sti­tute of So­cial Change & De­vel­op­ment, says the con­flict stems from the Bo­dos try­ing to re­gain con­trol of lands they have been pro­gres­sively alien­ated from. Mus­lim mi­grants from Bangladesh, he says, be­come the first tar­gets as the most ob­vi­ous out­siders. Ma­hanta adds that the on­go­ing con­flict is “a sys­tem­atic and co­or­di­nated bid to force the cre­ation of a ho­moge­nous Bodo ter­ri­tory by driv­ing out mi­grants”.

UB PHO­TOS

WOMEN AND CHIL­DREN ATARELIEF CAMP IN BI­JNI, CHI­RANG DIS­TRICT

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