A family at Kharabari Charak Math village in Barpeta district tries to salvage items from its charred house on Wednesday. (AFP)
Kokrajhar, Aug. 29: Dispur and the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) today agreed to start the process of rehabilitation of those riot-displaced people who are “genuine Indian citizens” from tomorrow.
The consensus came about in a meeting between the group of ministers, constituted by the government after riots broke out in the BTC-governed Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), and the BTC leadership here today. The GoM was headed by revenue minister Prithibi Majhi and the BTC delegation by its chief Hagrama Mohilary.
This is the first time that the government and the BTC have met over rehabilitation. They are next scheduled to meet on September 6 to discuss its modalities.
Talking to the media later, Majhi referred to the BTC’s stand that land documents would be required to verify the genuineness of the citizens. “He (Mohilary) has already said only genuine citizens with land documents will be allowed. There will be verification. We have come to the conclusion that those who were displaced will be rehabilitated soon. Work will start tomorrow,” he said.
Mohilary said the discussions were positive and rehabilitation of genuine Indian citizens staying in relief camps in Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Chirang would start immediately. “Within a week we will do the necessary formalities so that genuine citizens can return to their villages,” he said, adding, “We can say the process for rehabilitation of the displaced people began from today. Let there be no more misunderstanding.”
Mohilary appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony. “The violence should stop and I am confident the misunderstanding will end,” he added. Majhi thanked him for his effort to create a peaceful atmosphere. He said the stage was now set to start the process of rehabilitation.
Earlier in the day, an all-party meeting, chaired by Congress leader Bhumindar Barman, was held at the circuit house here to discuss measures to restore peace and normalcy in the BTAD and adjoining areas. Representatives of political parties like the Congress, Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), Bodo People’s Progressive Front, BJP, AGP and the CPM participated in the meet.
Social organisations like the All Bodo Students Union (Absu), All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union, All BTAD Minority Student Union, All Assam Tribal Sangha and the Tribal Youth League also attended the meeting. The participants urged the parties not to make any remark or statement that might hurt the sentiments of any community and create misunderstanding. It also stressed the need to hold meetings to build confidence.
After the meeting, Barman said the need of the hour was to work together to create a congenial atmosphere. “The chief minister has already said only genuine citizens will be rehabilitated,” he added.
BPPF president Rabiram Narzary urged the Centre to take up the issue of illegal migrants with Bangladesh and do the needful to deport them. “The government of India has to admit the presence of illegal migrants and deport them. Effective measures need to be taken. Muslim organisations have to be ready to help identify illegal migrants,” he said.
The Absu, Tribal Sangha and Tribal Youth League are demanding proper verification before rehabilitation. “There are Bangladeshis in Assam and it is a fact. That's why the Assam Accord came about and it is the responsibility of the government to detect and deport them,” Berlao Karjee, the adviser to All Assam Tribal Youth League, said.
The AIUDF said the government must discuss rehabilitation with all groups. Its general secretary Aditya Langthasa told reporters in Guwahati that the question of citizenship was delaying rehabilitation which was a gross violation of human rights. “People are living in sub-human conditions in relief camps,” he said.