Other States

It’s locals vs. outsiders in Assam, says Gadkari

Army jawans arrive to defuse a bomb that was found in a bag at NH 37 in Goalpara district of Assam, on Tuesday.  

The ongoing violence in Kokrajhar and neighbouring districts of Assam was not a Hindu-Muslim issue but a fight between people of Indian origin, including Indian Muslims, on the one side and “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants” on the other and should thus not be given a communal colour, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Nitin Gadkari said here on Tuesday.

Mr. Gadkari, who was speaking at a discussion on “Bodo Hindus — Refugees in their own land: Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators — the new kingmakers in an Indian State?” organised by the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation here, said the fact that Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had said the Centre was late in deploying the Army and Bodo leaders indicated that directions had been issued to the Border Security Force not to fire live ammunition at “Bangladeshi infiltrators” exposing the Union government’s stance.

Accusing the Congress of playing vote-bank politics in the region since Independence, Mr. Gadkari said the present flare-up was a manifestation of this flawed policy. He said 50 km of the 272-km border with Bangladesh was still porous and people were entering through this open area with weapons, attacking locals and grabbing their land while the government was not doing anything.“We had a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance partners today [Tuesday] and would be raising this issue in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday. A protest has also been planned at Jantar Mantar and BJP MPs would be donating a month’s salary for the victims of the Assam violence.”

Describing the violence, as “a big national problem” and not one of Bodo people or Assam alone, Mr. Gadkari said it is not a political issue and the BJP would not allow it to be made one.

“It is a simple question of infiltration in the area by people of foreign origin. Will we keep our doors open, allow them to attack people of Indian origin, and grab their properties just because of vote bank politics?” he asked.

Demanding that the border with Bangladesh be sealed and the “infiltrators” pushed back, Mr. Gadkari hoped that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would take some steps in this regard.

Earlier, a Bodo social worker from Kokrajhar Pratibha Brahma narrated specific instances of violence against the community by marauding miscreants.

‘They want to grab land’

Deputy Chairman of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Kampa Borgoyari said the people behind the attacks were those who had been opposing the BTC formed in 2003 to protect the rights of the tribal Bodos and other non-Bodos. He claimed that the problem of infiltration from Bangladesh in the region was so high that in Dhubri district, Muslims now comprised 94 per cent of the population. “They want to push the native people to the north and grab their land,” he insisted.

Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary of the Bodoland People’s Front said basically Bodos were acting like a wall between Bangladesh and the rest of Assam. “They are trying to break down this wall so that there is no more resistance to the infiltration,” he said.

Homeless in hometowns

Mr. Daimary said: “The entire violence appears pre-planned as canards are being spread by Muslim groups against the Bodos in a very systematic manner through both Delhi and Guwahati. It is unfortunate that we have been rendered homeless in our own towns.”

Kokrajhar MP S.K. Bwismuthiary made a fervent appeal to all Indians to stand as one in saving the indigenous people. “If India is really our country, it should stand up for us now. It is not a problem of Bodo or Assamese people, but of the whole country.’’

Journalist Swapan Dasgupta and former Assam Governor Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha were among the others who spoke at the meet.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 2:06:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/its-locals-vs-outsiders-in-assam-says-gadkari/article3738326.ece

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