The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Communal tinge to rape slur
- Protests against Bangladeshi labourers mount in Kohima

Kohima, Aug. 3: The pitch of the campaign against Bangladeshis in Nagaland reached a new high today over the alleged rape of a four-year-old girl last week.

Shops and markets were closed with the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) asking all “non-local” shopkeepers to down shutters and keep off the streets.

Kohima deputy commissioner Zhaleo Rio said the shopkeepers had closed their shops voluntarily to attend a discussion called by the NSF. The students’ body has taken it upon itself to resolve the matter on behalf of both the communities as well as Lerie residents. The meeting has been deferred till tomorrow because of an Ao festival.

On Thursday, residents of Lerie had beaten up four alleged Bangladeshi labourers and handed them over to the police on the charge of having raped the girl.

Medical reports, however, contradicted the allegations. Medical superintendent of Nagaland Hospital, . Angami, said, “Medically, it was not obvious that it was rape”.

Local residents, however, insisted that the child was brutally raped as her clothes were stained with blood and mud. They also alleged that in another incident last month, the labourers had committed sodomy on a boy from the same locality.

According to the residents, the labourers, who were engaged in the repair of an Ao community church, had called out to the girl when she was passing by and raped her. They criticised the Church authorities for preventing the mob from lynching the labourers. The police have not been forthcoming either. “We are investigating,” said superintendent of police, V. Solo.

Anger against illegal migrants is not a new phenomenon. Residents of Lerie had pushed out alleged Bangladeshis from the colony a few months ago. In this instance, too, the pastor of the Ao church had reportedly sought permission from the residents of the colony before engaging labourers from outside the state for the work. Permission was granted on the condition that the labourers would not reside in the area.

Early this year, the NSF had teamed up with the district administration and deported hundreds of alleged illegal immigrants.

Observers said the anger of the residents sprouted from the domination of retail business by the migrants.

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