Narayanguri (Baksa), May 7: The inmates of a relief camp at Narayanguri in Assam’s Baksa district today produced the identity card of a Manas National Park staff before chief minister Tarun Gogoi as “evidence” of the alleged involvement of forest personnel in the carnage on May 1.
The identity card of Mallajit Kherkatary, conservation volunteer for Manas Tiger Project under the Bodoland Territorial Council, was found by residents the next day during a search for bodies.
All BTAD Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) general secretary Lafiqul Islam told this correspondent that they had submitted proof of the involvement of forest personnel, including the identity card, a copy of which was produced before Gogoi today, a mobile phone of a forest staff and bullets found at the carnage site, at Gobardhana police station on May 3.
Alleging that the forest personnel involved in the attack were acting under instructions of BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary and deputy chief Kampa Borgoyary, who is also in charge of the BTC forest department, the union reiterated its demand to arrest the two leaders.
Of the 14 persons arrested so far in connection with the BTAD killings and thereafter remanded in three days’ police custody by the Barpeta chief judicial magistrate, seven are surrendered poachers who had joined the Manas forest protection force.
The Assam Human Rights Commission had yesterday issued a notice to the state government, directing it to conduct an inquiry into the alleged involvement of some forest personnel in the killings and to furnish the probe report within 45 days from the day of receipt of the notice.
It registered a suo motu case based on media reports that forest personnel, including a forest ranger, were allegedly involved directly in the killings, had used departmental guns and were in nexus with militant and other groups involved in a spree of ethnic cleansing in the BTAD.
Asked who was behind the carnage, border areas development minister Siddique Ahmed told this correspondent, “From what I hear from the survivors, the BPF is associated with the killings.”
On whether arms should be provided to the minorities in the BTAD, he said, “Even if they apply for licensed arms, they will only get a rifle which can never take on the AK-47 and AK-56 rifles. So I am not convinced whether distribution of arms will help them protect themselves.”
A survivor, quarry labourer Dulal Miya, 42, of Nonke Khagrabari, a village in Narayanguri, said he had gone to nearby Bhangarpar bazar on May 1 when he saw a fire near his residence. As he rushed to his house with a group of villagers, he heard gunshots. He later learnt that his wife Marjina, 39, and daughter Iliza Khatun, 6, had jumped into the Beki. Their bodies were fished out the next day.
Protests against the violence in the BTAD were staged in the state today too.
Rahim Uddin, 35, of Dhubri Zila Gramin Shramik Federation, sustained burn injuries on his legs while trying to set the effigies of BPF leaders Mohilary and Pramila Rani Brahma on fire at Hatsinghimari.
The All Bodo Students Union (Absu) staged a three-hour protest at Dighalipukhuri in Guwahati. It reiterated its demand for security of life and property of every citizen in the state, particularly in the BTAD, punishment to the culprits, seizure of all illegal arms and increase in the number of police stations and outposts in the BTAD.
Absu president Promod Boro said, “Repeated violence and killings in the region is damaging the spirit of unity in diversity, understanding among communities living in the area and mutual co-existence.”
He said the Absu has been demanding a resolution to the problem of militancy and seizure of illegal weapons, considered to be primary reasons behind the violence, since 2008 but the government never paid heed to their demands. He said the state has witnessed a number of conflicts over the past three decades because of insurgency or as part of a political game plan but none of the cases have been taken seriously resulting in repeated violence in the state.
He alleged that negligence by protectors had weakened the law of the land and violence and killing had eroded democratic values. “The negligence of the police department and failure of the government to adopt a pragmatic policy to resolve violence has frustrated citizens and made them lose their faith in the system. These aggrieved people are now taking the law into their hands. This will worsen the law and order situation in the state.” He urged the government to take appropriate and prompt action against law-violators to protect the people. A delegation of 15 organisations of the state, including Asom Sattra Mahasabha, Asom Xanskritik Mahasabha, Asom Xurokshya Oikya Manch and Janatai Jagoron Manch, under the banner of Brothers, will visit the conflict-ridden areas in the BTAD soon. They will try to spread peace by singing Bhupen Hazarika’s song Manuhe Manuhor Babe.