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Mohilary move to allay charge

- BTAD death toll rises to 41, minority panel to visit Assam

New Delhi, May 9: Bodoland People’s Front chief, Hagrama Mohilary, today rushed to the national capital to put a lid on the allegations of the party’s involvement in the BTAD violence.

In a meeting with senior officials of the ministry of home affairs, Mohilary and party leaders argued that the BPF’s name was being dragged into a controversy despite no involvement. “They (BPF) said that their names were being dragged into the controversy even though they were not involved in the violence,” a senior official said.

Accusations against the Congress ally in Assam over the BPF’s alleged involvement in the carnage had prompted chief minister Tarun Gogoi to say he will sever ties with the party if any evidence was found.

Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in a recent statement had hinted the NDFB (Songbijit) faction might have carried out the attacks. There are, however, no further reports from intelligence agencies since May 3 on the outfit’s role, sources said.

In Assam, controversy is also raging over the alleged involvement of former cadres of the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). Officials said some former BLT cadres may have joined hands with the NDFB (S) but ruled out direct involvement of the BPF.

On the other hand, the death toll in the Kokrajhar and Baksa attacks rose to 41 with the recovery of a girl’s body from the Beki river in Barpeta district. But there was no fresh report of violence. “The situation is improving. We have arrested 27 persons so far,” S.N. Singh, inspector-general of police (law and order), told The Telegraph.

A four-member team of the National Commission for Minorities headed by chairperson Naseem Ahmad will visit Kokrajhar tomorrow on a stocktaking trip. They will meet chief minister Tarun Gogoi and chief secretary Jitesh Khosla on Sunday before returning to Delhi, official sources said.

Mohilary also took up the issue of possible panchayat elections in the state following comments by Assam governor J.B. Patnaik and Gogoi regarding holding of the polls. The BPF is jittery over facing the challenge of panchayat polls at a time when it is under pressure over their alleged role in the violence.

“There are legal problems as the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution do not cover Sixth Schedule areas. Moreover, the Assam government is in the process of amending the Sixth Schedule to hold village council elections in Sixth Schedule areas,” Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast), told The Telegraph.

The two amendments relate to elections in municipalities and village panchayats and cover only Fifth Schedule areas. However, amendments to the Sixth Schedule areas have been finalised with comments received from the northeastern states. A constitutional amendment will be proposed through a cabinet decision of the next government, sources said.


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