| Laloo Prasad Yadav shakes hands with Tarun Gogoi on his arrival in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by Biju Boro
Guwahati, Nov. 24: The death count in the ethnic backlash in Assam increased today with police locating the bodies of three Bihari migrants in Tinsukia within a few hours of Laloo Prasad Yadav arriving here on a goodwill mission and accusing the BJP and the Shiv Sena of instigating the flare-up.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president dismissed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief S. Sudarshan’s claim about the unrest in Bihar and Assam being engineered by Bangladesh and the ISI as an implausible one. He said the BJP and the Shiv Sena had driven a wedge between the people of the two states.
Laloo Prasad, accompanied by eight MPs, made unscheduled stops at several places in the capital city to speak to Biharis. He met leaders of the All Assam Students Union and urged them to pull out all stops to restore normality.
Nearly 7,400 people, mostly Biharis, are being sheltered in 26 relief camps across the state. There have been 53 casualties in the backlash with Tinsukia district accounting for as many as 33 of these.
The bodies found this afternoon have been identified as those of Rajdeo Yadav, Suraj Yadav and Prakash Yadav. All three were reported missing after the violence in the Upper Assam district on Friday.
Tinsukia police said the bodies were recovered from a remote area under Talap police station. They bore injuries caused by sharp weapons.
The RSS theory about an ISI link in the attacks on Biharis by the Ulfa was endorsed by the Union minister for development of the Northeast, C.P. Thakur, in New Delhi.
Echoing Sudarshan, he spoke of a conspiracy to settle Bangladeshi infiltrators in the areas vacated by Bihari settlers. He said there was “ample evidence” of a “nefarious plan” by the Ulfa in collusion with foreign forces. “Immediately after Bihari people were evicted from their homes, Bangladeshis moved in to occupy their land. This reveals a gameplan by the Ulfa, including efforts to regain lost ground.”
Trashing the theory, the RJD chief said the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre and the RSS were passing the blame to the ISI to cover up their own failures and misdeeds.
“Whenever something happens in the country, the government passes the buck to the ISI and Pakistan. If the ISI has succeeded in continuing such activities, whose failure is it' What are the intelligence agencies doing'” he asked.
Laloo Prasad claimed that Shiv Sena members were behind the attacks on rail passengers from Assam and other Northeastern states while passing through Bihar.
The former Bihar chief minister came to the defence of the Congress government in Assam, saying Delhi was unfairly criticising the Tarun Gogoi ministry’s handling of the situation in the state. He said there was little the government could do if Delhi did not send additional companies of security forces to deal with the situation.
The nine-member delegation from Bihar met Gogoi at his official residence and discussed ways to make the Biharis in Assam feel secure.
Laloo Prasad said the Rabri Devi government had initiated “strong measures” to ensure that nobody raised a finger on the people of Assam and other Northeastern states while passing through Bihar. He said the people suspected of attacking rail passengers had been arrested and their photos sent to the victims for identification.
The RJD president is planning to lead a separate goodwill mission to Tinsukia after December 2. He said it would be inappropriate to visit Tinsukia now because the district administration was “busy defusing the tension there”.
PCC president Paban Singh Ghatowar, who visited violence-affected areas in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, said the backlash against Biharis was the handiwork of criminals bent on fomenting trouble.
He said most of the Biharis targeted by miscreants and militants had been staying in Assam for decades. “Many of them have never been to Bihar. It is really unfortunate that these are the people who are bearing the brunt of the backlash. All the culprits should be identified and punished without delay,” he said.