Monday, July 23, 2012

Army moves in to Kokrajhar to put an end to the Bodo-Muslim clashes there

The Indian army has moved in to the district of Kokrajhar in Assam, where a total of 12 people has been killed so far in the clashes between Bengali Muslim immigrants and the Bodo tribals.

The riots were triggered by the attack on two Muslim student leaders, believed to be perpetrated by the Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT). The leaders are currently admitted to a local hospital in critical condition. Four BLT cadres were lynched by the Muslims later in the village of Joypur, in retaliation to the attack on the student leaders.

Mohibul Islam of the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) and Abdul Siddique Sheikh of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) were seriously injured when a group of assailants attacked them with light machine guns last week, near the village of Magurmari. The leaders are currently undergoing treatment at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital.

The next day, four BLT cadres, identified as Nip Goyari, Pradip Bodo, Jamin Goyari and Jonson Bodo were lynched by a Muslim gang near the Kokrajhar city. Several of the motorcycles and other possessions belonging to the Bodos were destroyed by the Bengali mobs in the southern portions of the Kokrajhar district on Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, the Muslim dominated villages of Duramara and Narabari were attacked by Bodo militiamen, resulting in the death of two Muslims. The Assam government has announced a compensation of $4,000 for those who were killed in the riots, while a compensation of around $900 will be given to those who were injured. Local sources said that 6 villages were destroyed in the clashes and more than 7,000 people had to flee their homes.

The Bodo are the largest tribal group in Assam, numbering some 1,500,000 people. More than 90% of the Bodo are Hindu, while most of the remainder is Christian, according to the 2001 Indian Census. Although formerly dominated by the Hindus and Christians, the number of Muslims in the Kokrajhar district has increased significantly as a result of immigration from the neighbouring districts, as well as from Bangladesh. As per the 2001 Census, more than 20% of the district population is Muslim, and the Tehsil of Bhowraguri is having a Muslim majority.

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