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

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