| People of Dimol village leave their homes following ethnic clashes in Kokrajhar district on Tuesday. (PTI)
Kokrajhar, July 24: The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and All Bodo Students Union (Absu) today called for sealing of borders to check entry of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) through Dhubri district.
They said influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh was the key reason for the ongoing unrest that has left 32 dead and over a lakh displaced.
BTC chief and Bodo People’s Front (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary told reporters here, “We have reports of people from Bangladesh crossing the Brahmaputra into Dhubri and then intruding into Kokrajhar. We have urged the sealing of the Kokrajhar and Dhubri border.”
“The original Muslim people here are industrious and coexisting peacefully for many years. There was no disturbance before. But local Muslims have informed that people from outside, including those from the neighbouring country, are instigating the local people and creating trouble,” he claimed.
While condemning the violence, Sultan Alam, the president of the All BTC Minority Students Union, told The Telegraph, “We are also against influx of Bangladeshis and will help the authorities check it. But if influx is on then what is the BSF doing? What is the government doing? We demand that those involved in the violence be taken to task and the case be handed over to the CBI to find out who exactly is involved in the rioting.”
Absu president Pramode Boro said, “We fear illegal migrants from Bangladesh and the char areas are entering Kokrajhar and Chirang districts to create a volatile situation.”
He demanded sealing of the Dhubri-Kokrajhar and Chirang-Bongaigaon borders till normalcy returns.
Those following developments in the BTAD termed the demands as quite significant.
They said the unrest was to a large extent the result of identity assertion by suspected Bangladeshi migrants, who feel stripped of their economic and political aspirations within the BTAD while nursing strong feelings of being the dominant group in the political space outside BTAD.
The Absu also rued Dispur’s failure to protect and rescue people hit by the violence.
Lakendra Brahma, 85, a retired PWD employee of Baukabangi village, who has taken shelter in a relief camp, recalled that there were just a few Muslim villages when he was young and how their numbers have grown in recent times. “There were hardly any Bangladeshi migrants when we were young but over the years the demography has changed. Today we are the minority with nowhere to go,” he said.
Asked about the reason for the change, he said people have started selling land to new settlers and many have left the villages for greener pastures. “We Bodos, Rajbongshis and Nath Jugis are feeling threatened by this influx. Our identity and rights are threatened.”