Why Blood Will Flow in Assam Again
The Assam riots were not the result of a sudden reaction, but an accumulation of years of anger and insecurity. Unless lessons are learnt, they will happen again. and report
THE RIOTS in Assam were not communal. They were not about Hindus and Muslims killing each other for religion. These riots were about land and livelihood. They were about “outsiders” encroaching on “our” land. And the genesis of it all lies in a political system that has allowed the problem to fester for over 30 years.
On 19 July, Ratul Ahmed and Abdul Siddique Sheikh, two prominent Muslim student leaders were attacked by unidentified men in Kokrajhar. The very next evening, four former Bodo Liberation Tigers ( BLT) cadres were lynched by a furious mob in the Muslim-dominated Joypur village in Kokrajhar. The bloodbath that ensued has been well documented by the media.
So, what happened between 21 and 26 July that caused a humanitarian crisis of this scale? According to fleeing villagers, cadres of the Ranjan Daimary-led antitalks National Democratic Front of Bodoland ( NDFB) faction came out of their hideouts in the Bhutan foothills to the border district of Chirang and attacked Muslim villages between 21 and 23 July. Elsewhere, former BLT cadres also added to the carnage. Muslim settlers fleeing en masse have clearly said that it was not Bodo villagers, but heavily armed Bodo youths in army fatigues that attacked their villages and torched their houses. Sources in the military intelligence confirm this.
The exodus of Muslims from the Bododominated Kokrajhar and Chirang districts to the Muslim-dominated Dhubri district led to what can be called a reactionary move. Bodo villages in Dhubri as well as pockets of Muslim-majority Chirang, Gossaigaon and Bijni were attacked.
As the Muslim settlers of Bodoland scurried for life to the Chapar and Bilasipara areas of Dhubri, armed cadres belonging to radical Islamic organisations