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Sabha to hold peace parleys

Guwahati, April 18: The Bodo Sahitya Sabha is set to hold direct parleys with Bodo and non-Bodo leaders if steps promised by the state government and the Election Commission to curb poll-related violence do not yield the desired result.

The Sabha, which had yesterday moved Assam chief secretary seeking steps to control poll-related violence in Baksa and Chirang districts ahead of the April 24 Lok Sabha polls in Kokrajhar constituency, today appealed to all Bodo and non-Bodo organisations to sort out their differences. They were urged to refrain from engaging in any violent activities ahead of the polls.

“We are hopeful of normalcy returning to the areas soon. But if we see that things are not becoming normal even after the intervention of the state government and the Election Commission, we will then meet senior leaders like Hagrama Mohilary, U.G. Brahma and Hira Sarania to ensure peace,” said Kamala Kanta Muchahary, general secretary of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha. The literary body has stepped up efforts to restore normalcy in the areas.

The Sabha is not the only organisation worried over the law and order situation. Yesterday, several Bodo groups knocked on the doors of the Election Commission seeking its intervention to ensure free and fair polls in the BTAD following the outbreak of violence, especially in Baksa and Chirang districts.

A two-member delegation, headed by the All Bodo Students’ Union president Pramod Boro submitted a memorandum to chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath and election commissioner Hari Shankar Brahma to apprise them of the situation in the two districts. A seven-member delegation of the BPF and the Bodo National Conference also met the commission.

Soon after the delegations called on the Election Commission, four additional companies of paramilitary forces were deployed in sensitive areas of Baksa district. By evening, the poll panel also shunted out Baksa deputy commissioner Anupam Kumar Roy and superintendent of police Gautam Bora.

Muchahary said, “We condemn instances of violence that have taken place in different areas of the BTAD. Members of different groups are engaging in meaningless violence against each other because of their ideological differences. They should refrain from inciting and engaging in violence so that the polls on April 24 pass off peacefully in the BTAD.”

Members of the Sabha claimed that tension prevails in Madaghat, Odalbari, Nikachi, Narayanpur, Subonkhata and Barbari in Baksa district and Bangaldoba in Chirang district.

Houses of BPF members Surjya Barman and Bishwa Pathak were set ablaze at Kharuwajan and Bhalukdonga in Baksa. The election offices of two candidates were also vandalised. Incidents of blackmail and threats have also come to light in the past few days.

An official in the state election department told The Telegraph that there are “adequate” security personnel in the BTAD to ensure fair and violence-free polls. He said civil and police officials have been given fresh instructions to keep tabs on trouble-mongers.