Rights bodies in New Delhi and northeast have panned the report of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on communal violence in Assam as inflammatory. They also accused NCM of conveniently ignoring the fact that the clashes were between two minority groups and not between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"The NCM effectively reduced the riots to Bodos versus Muslims defined as 'minorities' and thus falling within the commission's mandate while the Bodos have been defined as a majority in clear violation of the National Commission of Minorities Act of 1992," said the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in a statement on Tuesday.
The NCM's mandate as per the act, ACHR pointed out, is protection of religious minorities notified by New Delhi. But the panel ignored the fact that 15% Bodos are Christians while 50% follow their indigenous faith called Bathow and therefore fall under the definition of 'minorities' under the NCM Act.
Questioning NCM's impartiality, the rights body asked why its delegation visited only one Bodo relief camp - Vidyapeeth High School - and six Muslim camps. "Vidyapeeth High School is in Kokrajhar town, headquarters of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District, and its condition is thus much better than other Bodo camps in far-flung areas. The NCM wrongfully drew inferences from this one camp," ACHR director Suhas Chakma told HT.
That NCM was playing with fire was evident from its conclusion that Muslims were at the receiving of looting and destruction of property while the Bodos did it to themselves, Chakma added.
Rights bodies in Assam such as Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti found a design in NCM releasing its report on the conflict as thousands of people from the Northeast assembled at Bangalore railway station on August 15. The NCM report stated that ""the conflict was unequal as Bodos were killing Muslims with AK-47s and there is impending fear of militant jihadis supplying arms to Assam".
NCM's biased and inflammatory report contributed to the vulnerability of the North-eastern people and the feeling among them that NCM is not for their protection even if majority of them heading home are Christians and had nothing to do with the riots in Assam, the rights bodies said.
Meanwhile, the All Assam Tribal Sangha has sought a survey of the riot-affected areas by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which it hoped would provide a 'more balanced' report.