Inmates at a relief camp at Tamarhat in Dhubri district. Telegraph picture
Kokrajhar/Guwahati, Aug. 1: Several organisations today laid down conditions for rehabilitation of riot-affected people on a day Dispur set itself an August 15 deadline to send the victims home.
The riot-hit people, however, asserted they would not venture out of the relief camps unless security was provided in the villages. Their fear was corroborated by reports of fresh arson in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD). A senior police officer of the district said two houses were burnt down at Dangtol in Dhaligaon in Chirang district around 5pm.
Addressing reporters in Kokrajhar this afternoon, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, All Bodo Students’ Union, Bodo Samaj, All Bodo Women Welfare Federation, Bodo Women Justice Forum and All Assam Tribal Sangha, among others, expressed apprehension that illegal Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants from Bangladesh might try to take advantage when the affected are resettled.
“The government should see that only bona fide Indian citizens are resettled. There is every possibility that illegal migrants will try to enter. The process it seems has already started as they are showing that over five lakh Muslims were displaced and are taking shelter in relief camps in Dhubri district. According to the census report, the total Muslim population in Kokrajhar is not even two lakh, so how come they are showing over five lakh inmates in relief camps. Who are they? It is nothing but a ploy to settle illegal migrants,” Kokrajhar MP Sansuma Kunggur Bwiswmuthiary said.
The organisations demanded that people who possessed land pattas and whose names were listed in the voter list of 1971 should be resettled. They also demanded updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and eviction of illegal encroachers from 48 tribal belts and blocks. They said the government must ensure that genuine Indian citizens are identified before resettling them so that no illegal migrant can get in. They termed the recent violence a clash between indigenous people and illegal migrants.
At Kamandanga High Madrasa under Tamarhat police station of Dhubri district, Giasuddin Sheikh, 45, a resident of Bhowrabil under Gossaigaon police station of Kokrajhar district, said, “Not only me, no one from here will move till full security cover is given to us. We have been living in hell with over 3,000 uprooted people here. But there is one satisfaction, we are at least safe here.”
Osman Ali, 37, of Azad Sishu Niketan relief camp under Tamarhat police station, echoed Sheikh. “You are asking me whether I will move back to our village? Can you assure me that they (Bodos) will not attack us again? We know how thousands of people fled and came here. There is a difference between promising security and ensuring it on the ground,” he said, referring to the government’s pledge to provide security.
The relief camps were a reminder of the 1996 ethnic clashes between Bodos and Adivasis. Nearly 30,000 Adivasis had taken shelter in these schools and in makeshift camps under Tamarhat police station, which was then under the Bodoland Autonomous Council.
Amulya Chandra Roy, an elderly person of Tamarhat, said camps for displaced from Gossaigaon subdivision of Kokrajhar district had become a regular feature in the area.
AICC secretary in-charge of Assam PCC, Jaydev Jena, who visited Chirang and Bongaigaon districts today with PCC secretary Pradyut Bhuyan told The Telegraph from Bongaigaon, “I visited six camps. They are keen on returning home but wanted adequate security.”
In Guwahati, chief minister Tarun Gogoi said they would be sending back the affected to their homes by August 15.
“Till now, 14 relief camps have closed down and 12,000 people have returned to their homes. This means the sense of insecurity is ebbing. We are trying to set up 104 fixed and mobile pickets. It is our responsibility to provide security. We will involve homeguards, village defence parties and local organisations to remove misunderstandings,” Gogoi said. By evening, 17 camps were closed but two new opened in Chirang district. No relief camp was closed in Dhubri district.
Gogoi did not explain how he would carry out the mammoth exercise in such a short time but officials associated with relief and rehabilitation told The Telegraph that of the 4.3 lakh people affected, an estimated 30,000 had lost their houses in the riots that left 56 dead.
“We will first set up the fixed security pickets in either tents or prefabricated structures, then we will request the inmates to return home. We will set up relief camps for those whose houses have been damaged. They can start constructing their houses from these camps,” one of them said. Another official said those who had lost their houses would be provided three bundles of corrugated iron (CI) sheets and Rs 20,000 while those whose houses had been partially damaged would get Rs 20,000.
“We have tied up with the Steel Authority of India for the CI sheets. We have also sanctioned funds to the district administration to expedite the process,” he added.
Gogoi said the people had complete faith in his government as was evident in the Karbi Anglong urban polls which the Congress swept by winning 40 of the 47 seats.
Chief secretary N.K. Das reviews the flood and riot situation daily while the home department sends a daily report on the setting up of security pickets in the riot-affected areas.
Assam PCC spokesperson Rajesh Joshi told The Telegraph that its president Bhubaneswar Kalita had this evening announced Rs 50 lakh from the party coffers and that each of the 78 party legislators would give Rs 1 lakh for relief and rehabilitation in the riot-hit areas.