Guwahati: In the last week, six people have been killed in the district of Kokrajhar, which in July was the epicenter of sustained ethnic violence, the worst in over a decade in the state of Assam. The area is simmering again because of a new surge of hostilities between the indigenous Bodo tribals and Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers. There were reports of fresh firing on Friday evening in which one woman was injured.
Here are 10 big developments in this story:
(With inputs from Agencies)
- Kokrajhar is now under indefinite curfew, which, the administration says, will be reviewed on a day by day basis. Kokrajhar is one of the four districts in south Assam that make up Bodoland, which is governed by the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council.
- Assam's DGP Jayanta Narayan Choudhury, who reviewed the situation in Kokrajhar today, told NDTV that easy access to weapons had been identified as a major reason for renewed violence and the police would continue to seize illegal weapons. He said both sides were procuring illegal weapons - more than 100 illegal automatic weapons and many country-made weapons were in circulation, he added.
- Five columns of the Army have been moved to Kokrajhar and Gosaigaon from Rangiya nearby and they are holding flag marches in sensitive areas - an exercise designed to indicate that troops are at hand and working to revive law and order.
- The Home Ministry has issued what it calls a routine advisory keeping the army on alert and asking the state to arrest those responsible for spreading misinformation and disorder.
- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from the Assam, called Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi last evening and assured the state government all help in restoring peace and normalcy in the affected region. Mr Gogoi reportedly briefed the Prime Minister about the situation and steps taken to control the violence. The Prime Minister has also talked to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and has asked him to extend all possible assistance to the Assam government in tackling the situation.
- Two months ago, clashes between the local Bodo and Muslim communities continued for weeks. 99 people were killed and five lakhs displaced from their homes.
- The ethnic violence that erupted in Assam in July and August this year caused fierce aftershocks in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad- text messages warned North Easterners living here that they would be punished in retaliation for the killing of Muslims in and around Kokrajhar. Thousands of people from states like Assam and Manipur boarded trains home.
- The volatility in Bodoland is the result of a growing battle for agricultural land and the changing demographics of the area. The Bodos believe that they are being reduced to a minority by Muslim settlers; both are farming communities.
- Local Muslims say they are not illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and that they are being marginalised by Bodos, who are economically and politically stronger.
- The Bodoland Territorial Council was created in 2003 when one of the groups leading the movement for an independent state, the Bodo Liberation Tigers, folded into the Congress government.