Assam Violence: Nine key demands of civil organizations
New Delhi, 05 May 2014: A collective of half a dozen civil organizations and over 100 individuals has condemned the massacre in Assam and made nine demands to ensure safety of Bengali-speaking Muslims in Bodo Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).
Text of the joint statement
We, the undersigned, express our profound sense of grief and alarm over the gruesome massacre of Bengali-speaking Muslims on 2nd May. This most recent round of killings -- in which 32 people, mostly women and children have lost their lives – is another link in the long and...bloody sequence of ethnic cleansing being carried out by tribal Bodo militant groups with impunity.
For years, Hindutva politics has successfully created the bogey of the 'Bangladeshi', rendering Muslims as suspects and targets, locked in a perpetual battle with the tribal Bodos. In his rally at Silchar, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate reiterated precisely this. He said: “There are two kinds of people who came from Bangladesh to Assam: those brought as part of a political conspiracy for vote bank politics of a particular party (Muslims) and others who were harassed in the neighbouring country (Hindus). Those brought for vote bank politics and smugglers must be pushed back, while the second category must be accommodated.” (Silchar, 22nd February).
More recently, poll violence at Harbhanga polling booth of Gossaigaon under 5-Kokrajhar LS (ST) Constituency was followed by a brutal police crackdown on on the villagers of Harbhanga, Jamunatari, Balabara. Many victims and conscious citizens in BTAD think that the incident of Harbhanga Polling Booth was meticulously planned to teach non-Bodo inhabitants a lesson for voting against the atrocious ruling administration.
The immediate provocation for the 2nd May killings seem to have come from the communal statement made by Pramila Rani Brahma, BPF (formerly BLT, a terrorist militant organisation) legislator and former Agricultural Minister of Assam who accused the Muslims of not voting for the BPF candidate Chandan Brahma. She demanded that BPF (a Congress Alliance partner in Assam State Government and ruling party in local BTAD administration) should therefore support BJP.
Immediately after her statement, separate incidents of violence broke out: a prominent Non-Bodo journalist of BTAD Mr. Dhananjoy Nath was attacked; three people were killed on the spot at Narshingpara, and another girl child injured, at around12:00am mid night, a heavily armed militant group killed eight people and injured at least four including women and children at Balapara. These were to be a prelude to the mass killings that were to follow the next day, ie., 2nd of May, 2014, when a group of forty heavily armed militant set ablaze nearly 70 houses and killed about 21 people and severely injured many more in Gampara near Gobardhana of Baksa district of BTAD area. Dead bodies are still being recovered and the death toll will rise up considerably.
Mr. Siddique Ahmed, a minister in Assam government who has visited the violence affected area of BTAD, has concluded that the members of BPF were involved in the massacre, and has also demanded the arrest of Smt. Pramila Rani Brahma. It has also come to light that guns provided to forest officials have been used in the massacre, thus directing suspicion towards Khampa Borgoyary, Deputy Chief of BTC and Executive member of Forest Dept of BTC .
We therefore demand the following:
1. An SIT headed by a serving IPS officer or Supreme Court judge should be instituted. The state police and other security forces deployed in BTAD which have miserably failed to provide security to Non-Bodos and Muslims cannot be relied upon to fairly investigate this.
2. Pramila Rani Brahma should be arrested and prosecuted at the earliest to instil confidence for the due course of law in the minds of aggrieved families.
3. Investigate the role of Khampa Borgyoyari whose close aid Amiya Brahma and others were arrested for carrying out the targeted killing.
4. Deploy more Paramilitary Forces to ensure security of the Non-Bodo peoples and particularly Muslims.
5. Provide adequate compensation to the family of deceased and to the injured persons and rehabilitate victims displaced by indiscriminate violence.
6. Investigate and take strict action against police personnel responsible for the post-poll assault at Harbhanga village.
7. Seize all illegal arms and ammunitions from the BTAD area without fail.
8. Rework and revise the BTC accord so that the democratic aspirations of all sections of population residing in that area are met.
9. The Election Commission should take notice of the public statements by Pramila Rani Brahma -- which apart from being provocative also amount to a flagrant violation of model code of conduct.
The statement was endorsed by eminent persons including: