New Delhi, Sept. 13: Assam may be limping towards normality but there is no room for complacency, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told the cabinet committee on political affairs today.
Presenting a report, he blamed immigration from within India and “outside” for the insecurities among indigenous people, and accused opportunists of waiting to foment communal tension.
Shinde referred to the rising tensions among communities in Goalpara, Karimganj, Barpeta, Hojai and even rural Kamrup, where Guwahati and Dispur are located.
“Although recent developments are encouraging, the situation is far from normal,” sources quoted Shinde as telling the meeting. “Miscreants are waiting for opportunities to create communal tension.”
Shinde’s report accuses the Assam government of failing to act in time to pre-empt the recent violence despite warnings. In June and July, the state government was “sensitised” about tension between Bodos and non-Bodos, he said.
Yet, after July 19, Assam witnessed its worst bloodbath in years, with 97 people killed and 4.8 lakh left homeless, of whom 1.92 lakh still remain in the 213 refugee camps.
The Assam government will hold a judicial probe headed by Justice Manisana Singh, a retired Gauhati High Court judge, sources said.
In the report, the Centre has conceded that there is large-scale immigration “from other states within the country or from outside” but avoided mentioning Bangladeshi immigration, apparently to skirt controversy.
The report also acknowledges the Bodos’ “fear” of getting marginalised because of immigration.
However, sources told The Telegraph that after arriving in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District, the site of the recent riots, many of the immigrants from outside “migrate further into other states”.
The demography in the Bodo areas is mixed, with the Bodos making up 34.8 per cent, Muslims (mostly Bengali-speaking) 14.5 per cent, and the Assamese 14.7 per cent, with a mosaic of other communities accounting for the remaining 36 per cent.
Intelligence reports have also mentioned growing tension in western Assam’s Goalpara district, which borders Dhubri and the Bodo areas as well as parts of Meghalaya across the Brahmaputra.
The Rabha tribals’ demand for elections to the Rabha Autonomous District Council, which includes Goalpara and parts of Kamrup, has apparently sparked resentment among some other local communities. There is a history of bloodshed between the Rabhas and non-Rabhas in Goalpara.
Assam police have placed 157 pickets in sensitive areas, and night curfew continues in Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Chirang, Dhubri, Baksa and parts of Nagaon. Prohibitory orders are in place in Udalguri, Goalpara and Morigaon, sources said.