Month After Assam Violence, Fear Keeps Tribals and Bodos From Returning Home

The fear of returning to their violence-hit villages is common for both the Bodos and tribals

Assam: It's been a month since 80 people were killed in a deadly attack by Bodo militants on tribal villages in four districts of Assam, but nearly 10,000 displaced people are not ready to return to their home because of fear. They continue to remain in relief camps despite facing hardships and shortages.

The fear of returning to their violence-hit villages is common for both the Bodos and tribals who clashed with each other, even as joint operations by security forces against militant groups continue in the region.

Repeated assurances from the Assam government have done little to address the uncertainty in the minds of those in the camps over returning home soon. However, their stay at the camps has come with its own share of problems.

"Till today we don't have security. So at night the young people patrol this area, and use bows and arrows as protection," said Shyam, leader of Nangdalbari camp in Chirang, which shelters displaced members of the tribal community.

Security apart, basic amenities are an issue. 40-year-old Sumi had to give birth to a baby girl at the Deosiri tribal relief camp eight days ago, with minimum help at hand, and has no medical infrastructure to support her child.

At the same camp, 16 students struggle to prepare for the Class 10 examination they have to appear for in February. That too, with only a few books at hand as the rest were burnt along with their homes. "We have our matric exam. But, we don't have enough books. We are getting some help from local NGOs. But that is hardly enough," says Binod Toppo, one of the students.

The situation is no different in the camps that have been set up to shelter members of the Bodo community who were displaced by the revenge attacks by tribals. "We are getting medical help but we are not getting any rations," says Nirmal Narzary, camp leader at Longsung.

Assam Police and the Army have said they have met with some success in major operations against militant groups, especially close to the India-Bhutan border. However, the claimed successes are hardly any consolation for people at relief camps. What they are looking for is the confidence to return home and start re-building their lives.