Warning sounded by the National Commission for Minorities in its report

There is a possibility that Muslims in the Bodo districts of Assam will turn “militant,” influenced by jihadi outfits from across India, in case their security is not ensured by the State government. This warning was sounded by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) in its report on the recent communal violence in Assam and has been communicated to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. The report was prepared after it visited the conflict-torn districts in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) and Dhubri district in Assam.

The NCM delegation, which included Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed and NCM member K.N. Daruwalla, visited Kokrajhar, Gossaigaon, Dhubri and Bilasipara in July. Its report said the cause of the riot originated from the conflict between the Bodos and the resident Muslims of BTAD, and not between Bangladeshi migrants and the Bodos, even though it said infiltration from Bangladesh did take place throughout the year.

“The conflict this time as far as we could see was not between some exodus of Bangladeshi immigrants and the Bodos but between the Bodos and the resident Muslims of the BTAD.”

“The conflict was unequal because the Bodos had leftover arms from the Bodo Liberation Tigers [AK 47 etc]. The Muslims are very poorly armed in comparison,” the minority panel report said, with a warning about the potential jihadi influence on the Muslim population in Bodoland.

“There can be grave danger in future in case militant jihadi outfits from the rest of the country start supplying lethal weapons in this area,” it said.

The panel has also recommended the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the major incidents of violence during the riots in the State as “this will restore confidence in the justice delivery system.”

It has also called for a “serious and detailed dialogue” between the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Assam government, and the Bodoland Territorial Council. Such an interaction, it said, was “absolutely essential.” The report also observed that the Bodos think that “driving out other ethnic people’’ was in their interest and that is why the NCM delegation told the Chief Minister that “Bodos need to be told firmly that they cannot under any circumstances engineer a mass exodus of the non-Bodos and that they would never get statehood this way.”

“Be forceful”

Accusing the administration of failing to stop the first round of violent clashes between Muslims and Bodos in the BTAD areas, the delegation told the Chief Minister to instruct the police to be “more forceful with both Bodos and Muslim criminals.”

“We were also left with the distinct impression that the lower rungs of the police were afraid of taking action against the Bodos, possibly because of the armaments they possessed and the fact that they ruled the area,” observed the delegation.

Conditions “pathetic”

While visiting the camps of the Bodo and Muslim victims who fled after their homes were gutted down and looted by arsonists, the delegation expressed concern at the “pathetic condition of the camps where Muslims were housed’’ and noted that overcrowding was a major problem.

Describing the condition at the Grahampur high school camp in Gossaigaon district, the report said: “This was a horrendous camp with 6,569 inmates from 31 villages.”