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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Assam peace a prisoner to bad rehabilitation policy

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times  Guwahati, November 20, 2012
First Published: 00:16 IST(20/11/2012) | Last Updated: 00:17 IST(20/11/2012)

Complications in the rehabilitation of the victims of violent clashes between Bodo tribal people and migrant Bengali Muslims in July-August this year have come in the way of peace in western Assam's Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD).

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The government's inability to modify the Assam Relief Manual 1976 to address issues pertaining to people displaced by conflicts is believed to have added to the problem.

Of the 4.85lakh people, more than 36,500 including 3,429 Bodos are yet to move out of 80 relief camps in BTAD and adjoining districts. Some 50,000 Muslims have 'gone missing' after the rehabilitation process began two months ago with a rider - only those possessing patta or land document would be allowed to return to their villages.

The fresh wave of violence that began earlier this year - local authorities attribute it to crop disputes - has touched areas where the victims of the previous clashes have been rehabilitated. This has coincided with campaigns urging Bodos to stop depending on Muslims and the minorities to be politically strong enough to see Assam being ruled by a Muslim chief minister.

The latest violence has claimed 11 lives. In July-August, 97 lives were lost.

"Communal politics will not be tolerated," said chief minister Tarun Gogoi, adding that the state was duty-bound to rehabilitate genuine Indian citizens in BTAD.

An archaic relief policy has, however, been a barrier in providing livelihood support to the victims, mostly farmers.

Many of the displaced have not received the rehabilitation grant of Rs. 22,700 per family and other material, such as rice, tin sheets, bamboo poles, etc. Also, the aid, relief workers said, is nowhere near the loss of property and livelihood due to the riots.

"Our immediate focus is on maintaining safety and security of the people in BTAD. We shall subsequently take up the issue of enhancing the rehabilitation package through the department concerned," a senior home officer said.


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