By Shreya More
Edited by Anjini Chandra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
The memories of the 2012 ethnic clash came reverberating back to the inhabitants of Assam when communal violence broke out afresh on the 21st of December, this time between the Bodos and the Adivasis. Given the fact that thousands of people affected by the 2012 riots are still in badly-managed relief camps, we can conclude that there is no political will to solve these problems. Mr. Tarun Gogoi has conveniently passed on the blame to the Central Government. The state government is not willing to accept the lack of action on its part, even after it had received substantial inputs from the Intelligence Bureau.
On 21st December 2014, two suspected militants from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland- Songbijit Faction (NDFB-S) were killed by the security forces in an alleged cold blooded encounter in BTAD-Assam. In retaliation, on 23rd December, members of NDFB-S attacked Adivasi villages in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Sonitpur districts. This has resulted in the death of 81 people – 73 Adivasis, including many women and children. As a mode of retaliation, Adivasi mobs killed at least 8 Bodo civilians.
This recent clash might instill the dormant Adivasi Cobra Militant Force with enough energy to revive. This militant group had made a ceasefire pact with the government in the last decade and has been maintaining peace ever since.
The seeds of violence were sown decades earlier and the lack of a long-term solution has taken thousands of lives and misplaced millions. Assam is home to a lot of communities with different political aspirations, all of whom carry the belief that they have been marginalized by the non-tribal Assamese. The Bodos had started their armed struggle for Bodoland in the 1980s, however, like every time, the Government of India managed to win over some factions of the armed group in exchange for the formation of BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area District) in 2003. But, the root of inter-ethnic violence wasn’t wiped out.
The Government has to grant rights to the Bodos in Assam in such a way that the rights of other communities are not compromised. Then, the problem of other communities being kept outside of the whole peace-making process arises. There should be a revision and reworking done of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Accord, under which BTAD came into existence and is governed, so that the political and economic aspirations of all communities in the BTAD are fulfilled.
There are innumerable, potentially volatile groups in Assam, some up in arms, some at the peace-talk tables and some in indefinite cease-fires. The simple realization that one solution will not work in a place with innumerable ethnic groups and that bloodshed is not the way, is in order, which will make it things much more peaceful for the inhabitants.
The all-out operations against NDFB Militants, ordered by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, have found support with some people who believe this is the only way to teach the militants a lesson. It might create a sense of fear amongst the terrorists but since the marginalized communities are already in a state of dissatisfaction and suspicion, a long term solution has to be found, at the earliest.
The media should be kinder to Assam and cover the incidents taking place in the state, without bias. Just because an election isn’t due does not mean that these pressing issues can be sidelined. Apart from all the external threats that our nation faces, these internal terrorism issues call for an immediate solution. Assam will continue to smolder if constructive steps aren’t taken at the earliest.
Shreya More is a student of Economics at Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. She is an avid movie buff and loves reading. A foodie, she loves exploring new places to eat. She prefers lazing around to partying on weekends. A great listener, she will always stand by people whom she calls friends!