BeyondHeadlines News Desk
A fresh wave of attacks against Muslims in Assam began earlier this month in what can be termed as ethnic cleansing, as survivors of mass killings in July last year were still struggling hard to come back to normal life.
Over 30 people were killed, mostly Muslims, allegedly by Bodo separatist rebels from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which wants an independent homeland for Bodo. In Kokrajhar, Muslim migrants are regularly attacked by these rebels. These attacks periodically erupt into mass violence or riots.
In the July 2012 attacks on Muslims in Assam, more than 70 people died and over 400,000 were taking shelter in 270 relief camps, after being displaced from 400 villages. In 1993, over 100 people were killed in one such raid at Bansbari. Assamese Muslims have been living under constant fear in the state.
This time, it was allegedly the fear of Bodos of losing political clout that resulted in attacks on Bengali-speaking Muslim in particular in Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). In wake of the developments, the ruling Congress government in Assam decided to probe the incidents by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“We’ve decided to probe the incidents by the NIA,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told the press while also added that “No one will be spared if found responsible for the violence.”
The BTAD comprises four districts of Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar and Udalguri. It has only one parliamentary seat of Kokrajhar, having about 70% non-Bodo voters. In these areas, non-Bodos were often been subjected to intimidations, abductions, assaults and in some cases killings as well by the Bodo militants or separatist.
Interestingly, a consortium of 22 non-Bodo organizations is backing former Ulfa leader Heera Sarania this elections, who is contesting as an independent from Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat. This move resulting in Bodos attacking Bengali-speaking Muslims, a soft target among others who are backing Sarania.
Dilwar Hussain, a Muslim leader from Assam, told DNA that “The latest wave of attacks is purely political in nature because the Muslims along with other non-Bodo communities had supported Heera Sarania (a non-Bodo) in the polls. The Bodos know that he will win.”