Violence-hit areas still tense
Over a month has gone by since another spell of violent clashes between the Bodo tribe and Muslim community bled three districts under Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and parts of adjoining Dhubri district of Assam leaving over 80 dead and driving over four lakhs out of home. Still the tension is palpable in the area that has been kept guarded through heavy deployment of paramilitary forces while Army has remained on standby. Sporadic incidents of shoot out and violence continued reflecting that the inter-community hatred that triggered the riot run very deep.
As expected as the violence has subsided, political parties of all hues are out on the street with their design of blame game without much caring for the psychological support and care required by the lakhs of innocent people from both the communities who have lost everything in the riot. The issue of ?unabated illegal migration? from Bangladesh and their heavy presence in the State creating a sense of insecurity for indigenous population have once against brought to the forefront in the aftermath of the riot that was basically triggered because of growing pressure on land in BTC areas because of burgeoning population of the religious minority community people.
The government is apparently doing everything possible ? from setting up police pickets in vulnerable areas to facilitate return of violence-displaced back to their home, setting up local level peace committees involving members of both the communities, taking opinions of leading citizens for post violence measures like rehabilitation and confidence building measures, to restore normalcy in the area. Still the tension continues to grip the area, night curfew is still on in affected districts and over two lakh violence-hit are still lodged in over 220 relief camps.
There has been demand from the Bodoland People?s Front (BPF) ruling the BTC as well as the North East Students Organisation (NESO) that no illegal migrants from Bangladesh should get rehabilitated in the post violence period because of their mere presence in relief camps without proper verification of documents. The BPF demands phase-wise rehabilitation for the purpose. It demands that those violence-hit who own land should be rehabilitated first followed by those having no land but with their names listed in the electoral roll. It says those having no land and no names in voters? list shouldn?t be rehabilitated at all.
In response, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has stated that there was no question of rehabilitating anyone who is not a citizen of the country. He has also initiated steps to expedite the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the State on the basis of 1971 electoral rolls.
The Central government has taken a very serious note of the riot and sent teams of officials from New Delhi to violence-affected areas to investigate into the root cause as well as to gauge the post-riot atmosphere while the CBI investigators on the job to fix responsibility for triggering the riot that had nationwide ramification this time. Because of violence back home over 40,000 innocent persons/students from Assam and other parts of the Northeast were forced to flee their work place and place of study in the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra after getting threat through SMSs and MMSs that were doing the rounds. As the exodus of N-E people from Southern part of India hogged the headlines, the Government of India agencies were out to determine the origin of such threatening SMSs and MMSs and claimed to have found that those originated in Pakistan where some anti-India elements were working overtime to pain the riot in Assam as persecution of Muslims. This once again reflects the sensitive situation in Assam where alleged illegal migration from Bangladesh has created an atmosphere of mistrust while successive government have chosen to just sit over the problem that has now turned into a powder keg.
At this crucial juncture some political leaders are making inflammatory statements while the government has failed to control it by taking stern action. Only an MLA from Bodoland People?s Front (BPF),Pradeep Brahma has been arrested on charges of inciting mob violence during the riot. The policed said he was arrested on the basis of seven FIRs lodged against him in two different police stations and after recording of statements of many violence-hit against him. The BPF has termed the arrest biased on part of the administration and charges leveled against the MLA baseless. The BPF president Hagrama Mohilary alleged that similar allegations were leveled against many other persons including the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president and MP, Badaruddin Ajmol, but none had been arrested except the BPF MLA. The BPF leaders maintain that the arrest of the MLA has added to the tension in the area and it would hamper the rehabilitation process. Yet, the BPF says that it is not going to sever its ties with the ruling Congress in Assam over the MLA?s arrest at this juncture. The party is the only ally on Congress in Assam.
|At this crucial juncture some political leaders are making inflammatory statements while the government has failed to control it by taking stern action. Only an MLA from Bodoland People's Front (BPF), Pradeep Brahma has been arrested on charges of inciting mob violence during the riot.|
Meanwhile, the North East Students Organisation (NESO) has called for a bandh in six North East states ? Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya- on September 6 next, while a public rally planned at Guwahati in Assam on the issues of exodus of NE people from outside states and presence of illegal foreigners in the region.
The NESO is inviting representatives of governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and all seven NE states and also the members of NE MPs? Forum to the meeting.
The NESO has called for setting up of nodal agency in all affected states, from where panic-gripped NE people had returned home, so that people of the region feel safe when they return to their place of work and study in those states.
The students? body will form NE people and students welfare coordination committee at its own initiative in the affected states where there is none and coordinate with such existing forums.
On the issue of illegal migrants , Dr Bhattacharyya said the NESO was firm on its demand before the governments that all illegal people must leave the state and country and prescribe that chief ministers of all the N-E states set up coordination in tackling the threat posed by illegal migrants to the indigenous populace in the region.
'D' VOTERS ISSUE
Amid continuing violence in Assam, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it would not be possible to delete names of 40 lakh doubtful voters from the state on the basis of their religious or linguistic profile as it would be unconstitutional.
The Centre rejected the allegation of NGO Assam Public Works that over 40 lakh illegal migrants from Bangladesh had got their names entered into the electoral rolls and they should forthwith be deported.
In an affidavit placed before a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi on, the Centre, however, assured the court that it was committed to weed out illegal migrants from the state.
|The BPF president Hagrama Mohilary alleged that similar allegations where leveled against many other persons including the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president and MP, Badaruddin Ajmol, but none had been arrested except the BPF MLA|
The apex court, while taking on record the affidavit, posted the matter for further hearing to November 6.
?That the proposed modality suggested by the petitioner NGO to identify and delete alleged doubtful voters; from the voter list 2006 based on religious and linguistic profiling is prima facie illegal, arbitrary and violation of secular and democratic fabric of lndia.
?That the prayer made by the petitioner cannot be allowed as it violates the Constitution mandate,? the affidavit filed by the Union Home Ministry said.
The Centre said as a matter of policy it does not support any kind of illegal migration either into its territory or illegal immigration of its citizens to foreign territories.
?Curbing illegal migration into the country is a priority since it has serious security, economic and societal ramifications,? it said.
The Centre, however, said it has developed a mechanism to identify the doubtful voters by listing their names in category ?D? that are neither allowed to vote nor stand for any elections.
?Identification of persons with doubtful Indian nationality in the electoral rolls began with the intensive revision of electoral rolls in 1997 ? persons who could not provide evidence in favour of their Indian nationality at the time of verification were marked as ?D? in the electoral rolls so as to indicate their doubtful/disputed nationality status and these cases were referred to the competent tribunal for determination of their nationality.
?Such D voters are neither allowed to contest elections nor cast votes during elections. The electoral rolls figures from 2005 are accurate and authentic.
?Any so called abnormal growth, in the electoral rolls does not imply that the rolls contain the names of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and the contention made regarding presence of illegal Bangladesh migrants in the electoral rolls is completely presumptuous,? the Centre claimed.
According to the government, to curb illegal infiltration it has strengthened the BSF equipping it with modern and sophisticated equipment/gadgets; raising of additional battalions, intensified patrolling and taken up other measures.
It said 36 foreigners tribunals have been set up to detect, declare and deport foreign nationals who have illegally infiltrated into Assam after the cut-off date of March 24, 1971.
?The government is committed to the detection and deportation of illegal migrants of post 24th March, 1971 in conformity with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964 through the 36 foreigners tribunals,? it said.
So, it is time political parties in the country rise above the level of just doing politics over the burning issue of illegal migration and sit together to find an all accepted way tackle the problem before it spins out of control and the country is thrown into turmoil over it.
By A Correspondent