New Delhi, Sept. 4: Having achieved a semblance of normality in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), the Centre has told the Assam government to keep an eye on neighbouring Goalpara.
Intelligence reports have indicated that tension between Rabhas and non-Rabhas was brewing in Goalpara district, as the former have been demanding elections to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. “Rabhas want elections to the council and Garos want panchayat elections and are opposed to the autonomous council,” said a government official here.
Over the past month, the Centre has sent at least two advisories to the Assam government indicating that the state should brace for tension in that area. “The focus is now shifted to the south bank of Brahmaputra and we have told this to the state government,” said a senior home ministry official.
Clashes between Garos, Bengali-speaking Muslims and Rabhas were reported in 2010. The Rabhas, who constitute just over a fifth of the population in Goalpara where almost 60 per cent of the population is Muslim, are pitted against Garos and Muslims, who are on the same side, intelligence sources said.
The warning will pose a challenge to chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who was seen to have faltered in controlling the situation in BTAD in July.
The situation has become more complex because Gogoi had promised autonomous councils to several indigenous communities before the 2011 elections. In many of these areas, the populations of these communities are tiny and this leads to friction with other indigenous or non-indigenous inhabitants of the area.