Saturday, May 3, 2014

Army in Bodo-land (31 dead, 1000x flee homes)

This is indeed one amazingly diverse country, in Kashmir the army protects Hindu pilgrims from being murdered by Punjabi jihadists and in Axom the army protects Bangladeshi migrants from getting killed by Bodo millitants.

The problem supposedly is that muslim migrants voted for the non-Bodo candidate and the attacks on the family of four year old Taslima Khatun and others are to ensure that people will not repeat the same "mistake" again. But here is a larger question: if these people are truly migrants, who issued voting cards for them? All parties have taken advantage of the plight of migrants, they get ration cards etc in return for the promise of votes. And one day the "natives" decide that enough is enough and go for the kill. This is sadly the story of the North-East.

It is also important to remember that this picture has acquired an unnecessary religious color (in the press and by the politicians). In Tripura it is the Hindu Bangladeshis who have displaced tribals from their land and are facing attacks in response (though not on the scale in Axom).

Modi is on record stating that after the elections all Bangladeshis must pack up and leave. All secular politicians from Omar Abdullah to Mamata Banerjee are (justifiably) outraged. But ultimately this wedge issue will work in the same way as all others- unite non-muslims against muslims. The polarization also works in both directions, muslims in Mumbai feel free to run riot out of sympathy with their Bangladeshi compatriots. And we are back to having the army protect the Taslima Khatuns from terrorists everywhere.
A Bodoland People's Front leader said, "Everything was fine till April 23. We were assured that we would get about 80% Muslim votes in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Kokrajhar on April 24. But all Muslim votes went in favour of Naba Kumar Sarania alias Heera Sarania."

Sarania, a reformed ULFA militant, was supported by non-Bodos, who are opposed to the creation of Bodoland state as demanded by Bodo groups. 

India deployed troops Assam on Saturday after 31 Muslims were gunned down in three days of what police said were attacks by tribal militants who resent the presence of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The unrest in the tea-growing state comes towards the end of a marathon election across India that has heightened ethnic and religious divisions and which the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to win.

Security forces found the bodies of nine people with bullet wounds on Saturday, six of them women and children, the third day of violence that police have blamed on Bodo tribesmen attacking Muslim settlers as punishment for opposing their candidate in the election to the Indian parliament.

Bodo people are followers of the local Bathouist religion.

"We are scared to live in our village, unless security is provided by the government," said Anwar Islam, a Muslim who had come to buy food in Barama, a town about 30 km (20 miles) from the villages in the Baksa district where the violence erupted on Thursday and Friday.
He said men armed with rifles had come to his village, Masalpur, on bicycles and had then fired indiscriminately and set huts on fire.

Bodo representatives say many of the Muslims in Assam are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who encroach on ancestral Bodo lands. In 2012, clashes erupted in which dozens of people were killed and 400,000 fled their homes.

Election candidates, including the BJP's Narendra Modi, the front-runner for prime minister, have been calling for tighter border controls.
Modi said last week that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the nearby state of West Bengal should have their "bags packed" in case he came to power, accusing the state government of being too soft.

"Modi should have been more responsible in his utterances," said Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chowdhury, a political science professor at Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal."His words can be very damaging since, even if we consider that Bangladeshis are living here illegally, there is a question of human rights too."

Soldiers in convoys of trucks mounted with rifles were patrolling on Saturday in Baksa district, where some of the attacks took place.
Bodies covered with white sheets were laid out in a row at a police outpost on the edge of Barama for identification by relatives.
Most Muslims were staying together in big groups, villagers visiting the market in Barama said. Security forces found three children hiding in forests near the border with China.

The Bodo region faces what residents say is a tight race between a Bodo and a non-tribal candidate. A policeman was killed during the voting when the region went to the polls on April 24.