The long drive to Kokrajhar on the road of silence | india | Hindustan Times
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The long drive to Kokrajhar on the road of silence

india Updated: Aug 24, 2012 10:33 IST
Sanjib Kr Baruah

As we snaked along amid picturesque lush green forests, paddy fields and undulating hills, the 260km road drive from Guwahati to the beleaguered Kokrajhar town was never so tense and deafeningly silent with our vehicle being the only one on the road barring a few belonging to security personnel.

As we started from Guwahati, reports were already doing the rounds of crowds blocking the road at several places and rumours floating of cars being broken by agitated crowds.

With a day-long lower Assam bandh call given by a new outfit – Muslim Yuva Parishad – to protest the recent violence, vehicles kept off the road with shops and educational institutions closed and business establishments downing shutters.

The abiding presence along the road was of policemen in security bandobast.

"We have been ordered not to let any vehicle pass as the situation is very bad and more violence apprehended," said a police official heading a team of armed policemen but who later relented on seeing our press cards and willingness to follow a police vehicle.

Tension was palpable upon entering Kokrajhar town where an indefinite curfew was clamped and shoot-at-sight orders issued by the authorities apprehending violence after a local MLA Pradip Brahma was arrested on seven counts.

Big sloganeering crowds defied curfew to stage protests against the legislator's arrest.

The clamour among locals in the town was the demand for the arrest of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal who they believe instigated the violence against Bodos.

"All we seek is fairness on part of the administration. If Brahma has been arrested, why is Ajmal being shielded?" asked Raju Daimary, a local Bodo youth.

Simmering tension between Bodos and the Bangladesh-origin settlers erupted earlier in the month claiming at least 80 lives with huge populations being displaced with the affected being housed in relief camps.