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Dispur mulls BTC suspension

- Curfew in Kokrajhar and Dhubri after fresh attacks; Cops, mob clash in Dhubri

Aug. 7: Dispur is seriously contemplating suspension of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) to ensure that steps taken by it to contain violence bear fruit.

Violence has broken out twice after quiet seemed to have returned, the latest being last night when three persons were killed. One more body was recovered, too, taking the death toll to 73.

Highly placed sources said suspending the BTC was a “very real option” since Dispur is under tremendous pressure from within and outside to restore normalcy.

Sources said the governor would take over the administration in case the BTC is suspended/dissolved. The governor's rule for a short span would help restore confidence of the displaced to return home and tone up the law and order machinery, including seizure of illegal arms.

“Though law and order is under Dispur, the officials find it difficult to act freely as BTC is de facto supreme in the BTAD. It’s a bitter truth. Since both the Congress and the BPF are coalition partners in Dispur, the decision to suspend BTC will not be an easy one,” one of them said.

Since violence erupted, triggered by the killing of two minority youths on July 6 and four Bodo youths on July 19, Dispur has, with help of the Centre, deployed army and 65 companies of paramilitary forces. It has transferred the deputy commissioners of Kokrajhar and Chirang along with the superintendent of police of Kokrajhar and formed a group of ministers to ensure proper relief and rehabilitation and normalcy. Dispur has also constituted a special investigation team to probe six cases.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi this afternoon announced that Dispur has requested the Centre to allow the CBI to take over all the cases. “Both outside and inside forces seem to be at work. That is why we have requested for a CBI probe,” he said, adding that he would order a judicial probe if required. Gogoi has also directed the administration to seize all illegal arms and ammunition in the affected areas and deal firmly with trouble mongers.

Gogoi has called back forest minister Rakibul Hussain from London and had yesterday directed health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to return immediately from Delhi to oversee healthcare in the affected areas. “He had taken permission from me to attend an education meet but not on any duty related to the Vice-Presidential polls,” Gogoi said. Ties between Gogoi and Sarma are said to be strained, but neither has gone public about it, sources said.

Listing out the government’s steps for proper relief and rehabilitation, he said, “Of the 340 camps, 245 have closed down and of the 4,80,664 affected, 1,16,581 have returned home.”

In fresh violence in Kokrajhar district last night, unidentified persons attacked Raniguli village around 10.30pm in which three persons died, senior police officials said. The deceased have been identified as Hasinur Ali, 30, Safial Rehman, 26 and Asmad Ali, 22.

In protest against the killings, a mob today wanted to take out a procession with the three bodies at Beltoli under Bilasipara subdivision of Dhubri district. Police fired in the air to disperse the mob. At this, the mob started pelting stones at the security forces, injuring subdivisional police officer Gunindra Deka and five paramilitary jawans. A vehicle of the security forces was also damaged. Noor Suleman Sheikh of Bhow-raguri in Kokrajhar, who is living in a relief camp in Dhubri district, was seriously injured in the firing and shifted to Dhubri civil hospital.

In another incident, protesters torched a vehicle at Geramari-Botertol on NH 31 under Gauripur police station of Dhubri district.

The Dhubri district magistrate re-promulgated an indefinite curfew from 11.30 am in all the police stations located on the north bank of the district. The Kokrajhar district administration also imposed indefinite curfew from 9am today.

A body was recovered from Rajpara in Bijni subdivision of Chirang district this morning and identified as that of Haj Mullah, who was reported missing since last evening.

A four-member National Human Rights Commission team toured Kokrajhar today.

Kokrajhar SP Sunil Kumar said security forces had been deployed in 53 fixed pickets in the sensitive areas and another 10 fixed pickets would be set up soon. Each fixed picket will have 20-30 security personnel. He said the district administration has decided to shift the relief camps from schools and colleges in consultation with the state government so that normal academic session may resume.

Gogoi today indirectly admitted that it might not be possible to send all affected home by August 15. “I had to set the deadline so that there was no laxity on part of the administration. Only Indians will be rehabilitated,” he said.


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