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Politics over violence

india Updated: Oct 07, 2008 00:38 IST
Digambar Patowary
Digambar Patowary
Hindustan Times
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The ruling Congress and opposition BJP have taken diametrically opposed positions on the current clashes in Assam between Bodo tribals and Muslim settlers.

While Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have both blamed a militant Bodo outfit, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) for the disturbances, the BJP ascribed it to the unabated influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants who want to grab land owned by the indigenous Bodos.

On Monday Gogoi repeated his allegation that the NDFB was responsible. "If further involvement of NDFB cadres in the violence is proved, we will take stern action," he said.

Sarma went even further accusing the NDFB of attempting ethnic cleansing. "The NDFB has launched a systematic and planned campaign to drive out all non-Bodos from the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District area," he said after a tour of the affected regions. The BTAD comprises the four contiguous districts of Udalguri, Baska, Chirang and Kokrajhar in central and lower Assam.

In sharp contrast, Assam’s state BJP president Ramen Deka claimed Islamic fundamentalists were trying to drive out all non- Muslims. “The attacks were organized and part of a bigger game plan of Pakistan’s ISI to make Assam a Muslim majority state.”

The opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) preferred to stay neutral. “We demand a high level inquiry into the incidents of violence in both Udalguri and Darrang districts,” said Chandramohan Patowary, AGP president.

Four suspected NDFB members, believed to be involved in the killing of a woman in Baska district on Sunday, were arrested on Monday. The official death toll in the clashes rose to 40 on Monday.