Guwahati/Kokrajhar/Dhubri, Aug. 11: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced a judicial inquiry into the riots that began in Kokrajhar on July 20, leaving 77 dead and over four lakh displaced.
The judicial probe will be over and above the inquiry to be conducted by the CBI, which has taken over seven cases on their own, Gogoi added.
He, however, did not announce details of who will conduct the probe or its terms of reference. The police have registered 309 cases so far. “CBI will probe the criminal and conspiracy angle but the judicial probe will look into a wide range of issues such as administrative lapses, if any, and recommend steps to prevent a recurrence. The CBI may take up more cases,” Gogoi said, while confirming the visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and newly appointed home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to Kokrajhar and Dhubri on Monday. “It will help instil confidence in those affected,” Gogoi said.
A judicial probe was also ordered into the 2008 Udalguri riots and the commission has submitted a report but even that could not prevent the Kokrajhar incidents, sources said. He went on to add that rehabilitation remains the government’s biggest challenge. “People are slowly returning home. Over 1.6 lakh have returned. The earlier the rehabilitation takes place, the better it is for the affected and us.” We have set up fixed security pickets to instil confidence so that the affected return home,” he said.
However, former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said in Dhubri that the affected cannot return home by the August 15 deadline set by Gogoi. Though Mahanta refused to elaborate, he said he had visited the camps of all communities where everyone talked about security to life and property. He tried to clarify that land rights of those living in the BTAD, that include transfer and inheritance, before the signing of the 2003 BTC pact remains intact. “If BTC is scrapped, the rights will go,” he said on the demand to scrap BTC.
Gogoi today also said he would engage with all political parties on the issue of rehabilitation, something which was suggested by the Congress’ party-government co-ordination committee yesterday. AICC general secretary in-charge of Assam PCC Digvijaya Singh had attended the meeting to review the BTAD situation. “I will convene an all-party meeting on rehabilitation soon,” Gogoi said.
In Kokrajhar, the co-ordination committee for communal harmony, comprising over 24 political and non-political organisations belonging to various communities, wanted continued presence of army personnel till peace returns.
A meeting of the co-ordination committee was held today at the PWD guesthouse in Kokrajhar to discuss the situation in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts.
The meeting appealed to all sections of people to come forward and work together to maintain peace and harmony.
The convener of the committee, Hemendra Nath Brahma, said the people could not come out of the fear psychosis. The committee would also submit memorandum to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi during her visit to Kokrajhar on Monday.
Gogoi also took a dig at BJP and AIUDF for not helping matters by their statements on the riots. He was especially harsh on senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley for dragging in the Banngladeshi angle. “All affected are Indians,” Gogoi asserted.
He also said nobody has done as much as his government for sealing the Indo-Bangla border and foreigners identification and deportation, which remains an area of concern as Bangladesh refuses to accept those detected and declared Bangladeshi citizens. Around 39,000 declared foreigners are absconding. We are in the process of launching the process for NRC update, he said.
Mahanta, however, refused to comment on Digvijaya Singh’s conditions for rehabilitation of the affected such as names figuring in 2011 voters list, land documents, ration cards since the government had already announced to rehabilitate the displaced by August 15.
The AGP president also said non-implementation of Assam Accord was the root cause of this violence in BTAD referring to the clause, which envisages deportation of illegal-migrants after detection.
He said deportation of Bangladeshis is to be carried by the Centre but over the years the matter was not seriously dealt with resulting in trouble time and again. He also ridiculed education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s claim that schools could be reopened by Monday in clubs and community halls.
The Kokrajhar district administration said there are still 90,000 inmates in relief camps under Kokrajhar Sadar, of which 20,000 are from the minority community.
Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Jayant Narlikar said the district administration has taken a family photograph of all those in relief camps for easy identification of camp inmates for smooth distribution of relief and rehabilitation assistance. Funds for rehabilitation have arrived, he said.