Friday, August 17, 2012

Assam: The agony of being a Hindu


Tarun Vijay reports after a tour of Kokrajhar

Kampa Borgoyari, Deputy Chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council, Kokrajhar said to me, while we discussed the eruption of violence here in local circuit house that its difficult for any one coming from Delhi to understand the pains and the agony of an Indian who has been looted and uprooted from his own home in his own land by a foreigner marauder with the help and connivance of the other Indians.

He was right. In nut shell the Kokrajhar violence can be summed up like this- Indians conspiring to eliminate Indians with the help of foreigners.

It’s the brazen vote bank politics that has made Hindus feel insecure and isolated in their own homeland. The rulers in Guwahati and Delhi are also Hindus, the leaders of various political parties in Indian too share the faith. Yet nobody has shown the concern for these hapless Bodo Hindus fearing annoyance of their Muslim vote bank.  Another Bodoland leader, who otherwise supports Congress in Assam and also at the centre as a trusted ally of UPA, said that unless these Bangladeshi Muslims become powerful in Delhi and uproot the MLAs and MPs from their cozy bungalows forcing them to take shelter in places 30 kms from Delhi, they will never understand what it means to be a homeless refugee in your own country.

The violence in Bodo areas of Assam has taken a toll of more than 61 persons, officially and has rendered 2.25 lakh Hindu Bodos homeless in their own land. Their houses were burnt, looted, and razed to ground by mobs of Bangladeshi Muslims.

Kokrajhar is a sleepy, beautiful town, a capital of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) created after an agreement was inked between the Bodo leaders and the then Dy Prime Minister Shri L.K. Advani. The BTC area comprises four districts – Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri. Although about 40 subjects are under the BTC, like education, agriculture, roads, tribal development, etc, the law and order and police department are kept under Assam government.

Police doesn’t listen to us, most officers selected by Assam government and posted here, often end up helping Bangladeshis. Recently on 23rd July, two Bodo youths were picked up by police on the pretext of questioning in regard to a report by Muslims. They went missing and later Jaysat Brahma’s dead body was found floating in a well near Gosaingaon. The other boy, Sanswarang Brahma’s body is still untraceable. Assam govt.  did nothing except suspending the culprit, SHO Abdul Rajjak ( Fakiragram police station) and no action was taken against his accomplice Danish Ali.

On 21st July, in Parora gram, two Bodo women were brutally killed by goons of All Bodo Minority Students Union and their houses burnt, action has yet to be taken.

On 19th July evening two members of the All Bodoland Minority students union (ABMSU)—its president Mohibul Islam and the other  his colleague Abdul Siddiq Sheikh were shot at near a village Magurmari located 3 kms from Kokrajhar town. Amazingly, both Islam and Sheikh were shot under the kneecap only. It was as if the gunmen wanted them to go through the most unbearable of all gunshot wounds! The entire episode indicates that the shooting was a result of the confrontation among the two Muslim student’s unions. It is also to be noted that Mohibul Islam has many pending cases against him that include charges of illegal arms trafficking.

Still under a well thought out strategy, Muslims blamed Bodos for this and the police, in a random move, stopped four young Bodos, Pradip Boro, Dhrubhajit Goyari, Jatin Goyari and Jwngsar Boro who were returning home from their work places, and put them in police van to bring them to thana for questioning. But before they could reach police station, a mob of Muslims halted the van and slaughtered all the four Bodos. The police stood silent doing nothing.

This shows how the government failed to detect and deport the foreigners. To such levels have the frustrations of the local patriotic Indian citizens reached that   an old time friend DN Bezbaruah, former President of the Editors Guild of India and a celebrated editor ofThe Sentinel said to me, ‘Tarun, you Delhi wallahs’ India begins at Vaishno Devi and ends at Kolkata. You people really don’t care for the pains and travails of North Eastern citizens.’

Even Guwahati High court had observed in a judgment delivered on July 23, 2008 that the Bangladeshi migrants have become the kingmakers.

This time in Kokrajhar, the hands of All Bodoland Minority Students Union (ABMSU) and All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) to instigate violence were quite visible from the day one; still the Assam govt chose to turn a blind eye and did nothing.  Independent news reports stated “Dhubri, in fact, is central to this clash between Bodos and immigrant Muslims over land. Over the last five years, the Muslims from Dhubri have migrated to Kokrajhar in huge numbers, raising the heckles of Kokrajhar residents’. The report further said, ‘curfew had to be clamped in. An old Brahma temple, a very revered place of worship for the Bodos was burnt down in Onthaibari, Gosaigaon. Bangladeshi infiltrators burnt down a hostel for Hindu boys.

A mob even attacked the Rajdhani express train on 24th July. The violence has spread to over 400 villages in the BTAD region. Houses have been burnt down and abandoned. People have to live in refugee camps in their own country because of hostilities from people of a foreign land. Conditions in the Refugee camps are extremely poor. Food supply is scarce, there are no medicines available and if that was not enough, the security in the camps is highly lacking.

“At Golokganj market, police resorted to lathicharge and blank fires after a clash broke out between AAMSU activists and shop owners. At Gauripur, AAMSU activists set ablaze 35 houses along with the office of Bodoland Peoples’ Front.”

For four days, neither the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi nor the police chief found time to visit the violence affected areas. Later, when questioned, he blamed the central government’s lethargy and had an almost blank visit to Kokrajhar.

ABMSU and AMSU are new forms of SIMI instigating communal hatred, helping Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators, and creating a rift between various sections of the society in border areas. Bodo land exists on the sensitive ‘chicken neck’ area bridging North east with the rest of the nation. AMSU goons try to push Bodos up to the Bhutan border and capture their land. The recent violence is a direct assault on Indian nationhood. Not only a young Bodo jawan, returning to Jammu & Kashmir to join duty in CRPF was brutally murdered but the patriotic Bodos are made to feel isolated by forging an unfortunate alliance with non-Bodo associations. Hence the ironical situation has emerged where Hindu non-Bodo communities, foolishly opposing Bodos for their sectarian and petty gains, have become instruments in the hands of foreign Muslim infiltrators to over power Bodo Hindus.

While writing these lines violence has again erupted in Bodo areas and five Bodos have been killed. the President of All Bodo students Union Shri Pramod Bodo told me today on phone that govt of Assam is forcing the Bodos to vacate the relief camps and return to their devastated villages immediately. To preotest against this highhandedness of the state govt. Pramod Bodo with other Gorkha, Bengali, Cachari and Rajvanshi leaders sat on a hunger strike in Guwahati and on 7th August they had mass protest in Kokrajhar.

The agony of Kokrajhar is manifest in the anti-Bodo attitude of the Assamese secular intellectuals who are blaming them for their own devastation. The farce of the Non-Bodo organisations collectively opposing Bodos and having an understanding with communal organisations like AMSU and ABMSU is hurting the broader national interest. I met the supreme leader of AGP Shri Prafull Mahant in Guwahati and urged him to support the Bodo cause in the interest of Assam and India. He agreed that the menace of illegal Muslim infiltrators has reached alarming levels and we all must do something collectively.

In a significant meeting at Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Guwahati, called by the renowned intellectual and head of Vivekananda Kendra North east, Shri Deepak Borthakur, a number of speakers expressed sadness over the apathy of national media and Delhi towards the Bodo tragedy. I urged them all to take a Assamese delegation to Bodoland with relief material and sooth the hurt feelings of the Bodo society.

This is the time for the Hindu society to ponder over their decline and why the foreigners have gained so much of power to attack them in their own land. We have seen the destruction of Kashmir and the mass exile and  ethnic cleansing of Hindus in the valley.  will that be repeated in Bodoland also and we, as a nation would remain a mute spectator to this anti national assault?

(The writer is Rajya Sabha Member, former editor of Panchjanya and director of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation).

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