Clashes a fresh attempt by bodos for statehood?
The clashes in Assam may not have been a simple backlash against settlers, but deadly fresh steps spurred by an old demand sections of the Bodos have ratcheted up again: a separate state.
For a presumptive new state, the ethnic Bodos must make up at least 50% of the population but are currently presumed to be only about 24-26%, pending publication of the latest language census. "That's why they want other communities out," said Abdul Rahim Ahmed, the president of the All Assam Minority Students' Union.
The Bodo National Council and all Bodo Students' Union have publicly renewed claims for a new state last year.
Native Bodos are Assam's largest plains-habitating tribe, which runs the Bodo Territorial Council comprising four districts.
A renewed statehood demand could prove to be tricky for the Centre, which gave the Bodos administrative autonomy under the Constitution's Sixth Schedule through a 2003 accord on the condition they will give up claims for a new state.
While the Bodos have always been protective of their turf and identity, partial autonomy was seen as a solution to decades of under-development.
Bodos see the settlers, some of them generations old, as usurpers of scare resources. A fresh statehood campaign has sharpened the divide.
"We were told we would be targeted because we did not agree to the Bodos' demand that we pledge support," said Mohibur Islam, a local migrant leader whose attempted assassination touched off a deadly retaliation by migrant Muslims on July 20.