Oct. 6: Violence between Muslims and Bodos has killed 47 and left over 86,000 homeless in two Assam districts, jolting the state into sending helicopters, paramilitary troops and river patrols.
Dispur and Delhi are worried that the three-day-old rioting, if not quickly quelled, could lead to an Assam-wide eruption of simmering anti-Bangladeshi sentiment.
The Centre now plans to tackle the states immigration problem by updating the national register for citizens (NRC), a task Delhi has sat on for 23 years, officials said.
Twenty-eight people have died in Udalguri district and 19 in Darrang since the clashes broke out on Friday.
Eleven in each district died in police firing. Some 54,000 are in relief camps in Udalguri and 32,071 in Darrang. Two bodies were recovered from either district today, state police chief R.N. Mathur said.
Four security force helicopters today monitored the violence belt; Sashastra Seema Bal and BSF troops marched into all Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, and patrol boats scanned the rivers for trouble-makers from neighbouring Nagaon and Morigaon.
Police blamed the militant National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), which has a ceasefire pact with the Centre, for the violence but the outfit denied the allegations.
Officers said two NDFB members — area commander B. Dahal, 24, and Jabrang Boro, 23 — had been identified by a child witness as the men who killed a woman and a two-year-old baby yesterday.
NDFB general secretary Gobinda Basumatary, however, asked chief minister Tarun Gogoi to visit Udalguri to find out the truth.
We have received a letter from the NDFB claiming they are not involved, a Union home ministry source said.
The NRC will now be updated in Assam, another source said. Under the Assam Accord of 1985, all descendants of those included in the NRC of 1951, and all those on the 1971 electoral rolls, will be part of the updated NRC.
The government is especially worried because the BJP is highlighting the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigration, as evident from L.K. Advanis recent speech in Guwahati. Gauhati High Court, too, made an observation in July about the possibility of Bangladeshis becoming kingmakers in Assam.
Delhi also wants to push Dhaka harder to take back illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. At home secretary-level talks in Dhaka in July-end, it was agreed that verification of detected illegal nationals from either country would be done in advance.
Hundreds of Bangladeshis are in Indian jails for illegal immigration. From now on, their deportation formalities will start when they are arrested and not after they finish their jail sentences.
A team from all parties barring the ruling Congress toured the affected areas in Assam today and appealed for peace. Badruddin Ajmal, chief of the Assam United Democratic Front, a party formed by Muslim organisations, was allegedly heckled by inmates of Bhakatpara camp in Udalguri.