Assam bled again
The longstanding ethnic conflict in Assam between the Bodo tribe and the adivasis as well as Muslims who have come and settled in the state over the last hundred years took a nasty turn on Tuesday when Bodo militants of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), the anti-dialogue faction of the parent NDFB, gunned down over 70 people in four districts of the north-eastern state. The Christian adivasis targeted this time include 18 children and 21 women, as the spate of attacks in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur as well as two other districts, left Assam in shock and disbelief. More than 250 are still missing in what can be dubbed as one of the bloodiest carnage of ethnic minorities in this state. The Tarun Gogoi government has once again shown utter incompetence in tackling the Bodo menace that is showing no signs of coming under police or paramilitary control. With splinters of discontent riding disparate and in fact unwieldy demands of a separate Bodoland, it seems not only are the shards of identity-driven violence hurting the people, especially the hapless adivasis who have embraced Christianity and make a living working at the tea plantations, but, the conflict has reached unmanageable levels that cannot be seen through any other lens but that of terrorism. The militant factions of Bodo people need to be reined in as soon as possible, and because they are openly anti-dialogue, it is imperative that a concerted effort and State-Centre cooperation will be integral to battling this hazard. Moreover, while these repeated assaults to the secular fabric of India cannot be tolerated any longer, the government at the centre, along with Assam’s own, have to ensure that the federal thrust of the State does not override the right to self-determination of each and everyone of our people.