Monday, May 12, 2014

NTUI Statement on Assam Violence: Unite all working people against organised violence, genocide and chauvinistic politics

New Delhi, 10 May 2014: 
Unite all working people against organised violence, genocide and chauvinistic politics
The death toll in the premeditated attack in Assam's Kokrajhar- Baska region of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) has risen to over 40, a majority being women and children, with several others missing. This is accompanied by mass eviction of innocent people including women and children in this region. This is not the first instance of such a violent genocidal attack in this region. This violence is rooted in the very demand and the subsequent creation of an autonomous Bodoland combining areas of the 8 districts of Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Darang and Sonitpur under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
The applicability of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was intended for predominantly tribal areas (which meant in areas where tribal population was over 90%). As per the 2001 Census, all Sixth Schedule areas have a tribal population ranging from 56% to 98% of the total population except for the BTAD (established in 2003) where the total tribal population was only 38%, while the Bodo population was even lower. The Bodo accord signed in 1993 gave legitimacy to the chauvinist groups, who use organised violence to advance their politics, to suppress the majority non-Bodo population in this region thereby violating the democratic norm and values of society. The Assam government undermined the report of the Bhupinder Singh Committee (which was formed by the then Central Government in 1991) that proposed a democratic framework with multiple levels of autonomy which, if implemented, could have ensured the rights of all communities including the Bodos. The present attack as well as the earlier ones, are carefully orchestrated attempts of extreme-nationalist forces among the Bodos to alter the demographic structure of this region through state-supported violence in order to secure their control over the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).  The present attack was on the muslim minority population in this region but on earlier occasions the attacks were against the Santhals, also tribals, to ensure the supremacy of the Bodos in this region.

The present spate of violence started with 8 armed Bodo youth attacking a house in Narasinghbari village in Baksa District on 1 May. The next day over 40 Bodo militants surrounded 77 houses in Narayanguri village in the same district and fired indiscriminately. Simultaneously, in Balapara village in Kokrajhar district, armed Bodo youths attacked non-Bodo villagers. Reports from the ground indicate that this ‘planned’ genocidal attack against the muslim population is a reprisal for allegedly not voting for the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) candidate Chandan Brahma, a minister in the state government, in the Lok Sabha election for the Kokrajhar constituency held on 24 April. The violence was a direct fallout of the inflammatory media statement issued by Pramila Rani Brahma, former state Minister and presently the sitting BPF MLA from the Kokrajhar East constituency on 30 April, in which she accused the Muslims in the BTAD of not voting for the BPF and the complete failure of the state machinery to apprehend the situation and ensure safety and security of innocent citizens. The attack has even, in one instance, involved a Forest Ranger and .303 rifles belonging to the Forest Department being used against the targeted minorities. The statement of the BJP presumptive Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in a rally in neighbouring West Bengal following the attack in Assam lashing out at the state government for being soft on Bangladeshi ‘infiltrators’, was a clear indication of the communal hysteria that is being created across the country against minority religious communities thereby strengthening extreme-nationalist forces and justifying such inhuman and brutal attacks.

There is strong evidence that the orchestrated violence against minorities in Assam has displaced scores of families who have lost their livelihoods. There is emerging evidence that minorities in the BTAD are being discriminated against in employment even for casual and contract jobs. There can never be any doubt that divisive chauvinistic politics and sectarianism affects the working people the most. The NTUI stands in opposition to the politics of chauvinism and hatred and calls upon the Government of Assam:

1. Ensure peace in the region and provide security to the non-Bodo population of the region and take severe action against all those who incite or engage in acts of communal violence.
2. Immediately repeal the Bodo-Accord and implement the Bhupinder Singh Committee recommendations.

Gautam Mody
General Secretary