NCCI slams Centre, Assam govt for Kokrajhar violence *Tribal-Muslim violence is senseless, says Assam bishop who calls for peace

August 4, 2012 by  
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Assam, July 28, 2012: Accusing the Union and Assam governments of lacking in “political will” to prevent influx, National Council of Churches in India has said the “disaster” in the northeastern state could have been averted had infiltration of migrants been properly checked at all levels.

“We believe that this disaster (Assam violence) could have been averted, if both the Centre and the Assam government would have taken careful steps, with a strong political will, to check the infiltration of migrants to India, especially to Assam,” NCCI general secretary Roger Gaikwad said in a letter to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram yesterday.

Gaikwad said, “About 10,000 sq km land have been occupied by the migrants and they are now spreading over to other districts. Such influx and occupation will definitely create a fear psychosis among the indigenous people; being helpless, they are bound to retaliate.”

He said the ongoing ethnic violence in Assam, especially in the districts of Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Chirang since July 19, was a “repetition” of the 2008 carnage in Kokrajhar where 55 people were killed and thousands others displaced.

Gaikwad expressed “regret” that leaders were not able to read early warnings.

Expressing concern at the relocation process of the displaced people, he said, “It is also a matter of great concern and upsetting to see that this unwanted episode is being repeated, displacing people, destroying property, and annihilating human lives.”

– deccanherald

Tribal-Muslim violence is senseless, says Assam bishop who calls for peace


Assam, July 24, 2012: Mgr Thomas Pulloppillil, from the diocese of Bongaigaon, talks about the violence that broke out between tribal Bodos and Muslim settlers in Korajhar District. At least 17 people have been killed, and another 30,000 fled their villages out of fear.

“We are faced with senseless violence,” said Mgr Thomas Pulloppillil, bishop of Bongaigaon. “We can only offer survivors all our help.” Clashes between members of the Bodo tribe and Muslim settlers in Assam have created “a terrible situation,” he added. So far, 17 people have been killed, but hundreds of homes have been torched and destroyed and at least 30,000 have fled their villages.

Violence broke out Friday night when unidentified armed men killed four youths in Kokrajhar district, an area dominated by the Bodo tribe. Armed Bodos attacked Muslims in retaliation, suspecting them to be behind the killings, police said.

Since then, unrestrained violence broke out with various groups setting houses, schools, and vehicles ablaze, firing indiscriminately with automatic weapons in populated areas.

On Sunday and Monday, the violence is reported to have spread to other areas, including nearby Chirang district.

As soon as he was informed of events, Mgr Pulloppillil returned from his annual retreat.

“Many Catholics in my diocese are in the middle of the mayhem,” he said. “I have already given instructions to organise relief for the victims. We shall use all of the resources at our disposal to help these people, now and when it will be time to restart.”

“I want to express my deepest condolences for all those who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. We shall be agents of reconciliation and mediation as well as builders of bridges of peace.”

A local source, who preferred to be anonymous, told AsiaNews that the “situation is really serious. Everything is out of control and the police is unable to stop it.”

The violence, the source explained, “is economic in nature, exacerbated by ethnic divisions.” Religion does not come into it.

Tribal Bodos are Hindu or Christian, and the area has seen tensions in the past, especially in 2003, when the central government set up the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a non-autonomous territorial body that administers the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), which includes the districts of Kokrajhar, Baska, Udalguri and Chirang, where the Bodos are the majority.

– asianews

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