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Life in the shadow of riots

Safety and security and an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) top the wish list for Mohd Safuddin Sheikh of Dotma Nawervita village in Kokrajhar district this election.

People here are yet to recover from the riots that took place in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District in July and August 2012. About 103 people were killed and 4.85 lakh displaced.

Sheikh said there is a sense of insecurity among members of the community after the riots. “We want assurance from the leaders that we will be safe and can live without fear,” he said, adding that they live in constant fear of being harassed or driven out as Bangladeshis.

They make it a point to keep all necessary papers like land documents, ration card and the 1966 voter list, lest they be branded Bangladeshis.

“We always make sure that we have land documents, ration card, voter list and the NRC (document), which can prove our Indian citizenship,” said Nizamuddin, a school teacher in Duramari village.

Others in the village echoed his fears.

“Safety and security is of primary importance for us. We have conveyed our feelings to the politicians coming to seek vote,” Nizamuddin said.

Both Nawervita and Duramari in Kokrajhar were badly affected in the 2012 clashes.

The village is nearly 250km from Guwahati and 20km from Kokrajhar town.

“We want an assurance from leaders that we will be safe and can live without fear, Parties and candidates have promised this. We hope they will provide us a normal life,” Azizul Rehman, a village elder of Nawervita, said.

The villagers are still struggling to rebuild their houses and lives. The Ummah Welfare Trust has helped 29 families to construct houses with sanitation facilities. About 130 others were provided houses under Indira Awaas Yojana.

l Kokrajhar votes on April 24