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Bodo groups slam violence

Guwahati/Kokrajhar, May 30: Several Bodo organisations took out a rally today to condemn the violence during yesterday’s general strike called by the All BTC Minority Students Union. They demanded a ban on the union and arrest of its leaders involved in the incidents.

The rally was taken out by groups such as Ex-BLT Welfare Society, Surrendered NDFB Welfare Association and the NDFB from KDSA field to the deputy commissioner’s office, where they submitted a memorandum to Union home minister P. Chidambaram, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary, forest minister Rakibul Hussain and state director-general of police J.N. Choudhury, among others.

The groups alleged that the strike was called with the ugly design of fuelling communal clashes. “It is unfortunate that the unwanted situation arose because of the bandh call,” Janamohan Muchahary, president of Ex-BLT Welfare Society, said.

At least 14 persons were injured as police and protesters clashed after supporters tried to enter Kokrajhar town to impose the strike. The bandh was called to demand the arrest of those who had threatened the minorities in Bedlangmari of dire consequences if they did not vacate a plot of land meant for an idgah.

Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Donald Gilfellon said the situation in the district was now normal and police were patrolling the vulnerable areas. Superintendent of police Jitmol Doley said some instigators had been identified.

However, intelligence sources warned that the violence witnessed in the BTC and adjoining areas could just be the beginning of troubled times in the traditionally volatile belt unless Dispur, Congress and the Bodoland People’s Front worked in close coordination to douse the fire.

The genesis of the problem lies in the demand for a separate Bodoland, which the Bodo community sees as a logical and legitimate end to its years of struggle and sacrifice. The demand, however, sparks fear of further marginalisation among non-Bodos who make up more than 60 per cent of the population in the BTC, sources said.

“It is a sensitive issue. The sentiments of both the sides have to be respected. They have to be convinced to resolve differences, apprehension and mistrust through negotiations or else there could be more trouble. The governments, both at the Centre and Dispur, along with the Congress and the BPF cannot allow the situation to drift,” an intelligence source warned.

A wary Dispur is taking steps to “cool” down the situation. “We impressed upon Absu to withdraw their blockade by facilitating talks with the education department. We will take steps against those involved in any untoward incident,” a source said.