The month-long clash between Bodos and Muslim settlers in Assam is shifting beyond the Bodoland Territorial Council areas and the violence-hit parts of Dhubri district, as a remote fishing village near the Bangladesh border came under attack on Wednesday.
“Unidentified men fired at some fishermen at Bangaldoba village under Chapar police station around 4pm. One person was injured and two were missing,” said Kumud Chandra Kalita, deputy commissioner, Dhubri.
The attack followed the recovery of bodies of two Assamese people, one in West Bengal and another in Assam’s Kokrajhar district.
The village, 250km west of Guwahati and close to the Bangladesh border, is Muslim-dominated. “The cause of firing could even be internal economic rivalry. We are investigating all angles,” said LR Vishnoi, IGP (law and order), Assam.
But the attack followed a United Liberation Front of Asom warning against the Muslim settlers two days ago. The involvement of Bodo
militant groups, however, isn’t ruled out either.
Earlier in the day, local Muslim leaders assembled some 800 inmates from half-a-dozen relief camps at nearby Balajan. The meeting was called to discuss poor distribution of relief material, but ended up as a tirade against the Bodos. The gathering was dispersed by the authorities.
Around 30 families left villages in Dhubri district fearing post-Eid violence. With this, an estimated 1,500 people have taken refuge in West Bengal and Meghalaya.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who began a confidence-building mission on Wednesday, said bridging the mistrust would take time and the inmates of relief camps in Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Bongaigaon districts would be rehabilitated as early as possible.
He said the violence had taken a toll on education across the four districts since most of the schools were serving as relief camps. “To ensure that the schools reopen, those whose houses have been burnt will be shifted to camps closer to their villages,” he said.
On fears that Bangladeshis were being pushed into camps in order to be rehabilitated later, the chief minister said, “We will verify every available record while rehabilitating the people so that only Indians return to their villages.”