Security personnel have recovered 5 more bodies from Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa districts of Assam, raising the toll in the massacre by suspected Bodo militants to 41. Though the Assam Police said the Songbijit faction of NDFB was behind the attacks, a finger of suspicion has been also pointed at the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), an ally of the Congress. The BPF, which has 12 legislators including a minister in the state Cabinet, runs the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with an absolute majority.
A team of 40 NDRF personnel, which reached the spot on Tuesday, started their operation this morning to fish out more bodies from the Beki river.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had announced the day before yesterday his government’s decision to institute a judicial probe into the incidents. While five cases have been registered in connection with the three incidents where villagers belonging to a particular community were attacked by heavily armed miscreants in the two districts last week, Gogoi said a judicial probe to be headed by a retired judge would help unravel the conspiracy angle and bring the culprits to book.
The Assam government on Monday ordered security forces to launch an intensive drive to seize illegal weapons with the assistance of Army personnel deployed in Baksa, Kokrajhar and Bodo Territorial Areas District (BTAD) even as the situation returned to normal. GP Singh, a senior officer of National Investigation Agency, arrived in Guwahati on Monday to finalize the modalities of taking over the investigation of cases on request from the state government. The preliminary report submitted by police to chief minister Tarun Gogoi clearly hints at the involvement of the IK Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Boroland in the killings. The Assam Government pressed personnel from the national and state disaster response forces into service yesterday to search for 12 women and 3 children who went missing since militants attacked two villages in Baksa district on Friday.
All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) has demanded that the BTC, headed by Hagrama Mohilary, be dissolved immediately. Members of the students’ body also staged a protest in front of the Raj Bhawan, seeking the intervention of governor JB Patnaik to bring about a solution in the BTAD. “We appeal to the governor to exercise his office and take steps in the interests of all communities living in the BTAD. The present council should be dissolved immediately. Stern action should be taken against those who have fuelled such brutal violence. Mohilary and Pramila Rani Brahma should be arrested,” said AAMSU president Abdur Rahim Ahmed.
Meanwhile, civil society groups and social activists, besides NGOs, while condemning the massacre of Muslims in Assam in their nine-point charter of demands, have called for immediate arrest of Pramila Rani Brahma and demanded strong measures to ensure safety of Muslims in the BTAD areas. In a joint statement, several members of the civil society demanded constitution of an SIT headed by a serving IPS officer or a Supreme Court Judge. “The state police and other security forces deployed in BTAD, which have miserably failed to provide security to non-Bodos and Muslims, cannot be relied upon to fairly investigate this,” they said. The signatories included Ram Puniyani, activist and writer, Mumbai, Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari, Lesley Esteves, queer activist, Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist, Bonojit Hussain, research scholar, Delhi Shohini Ghosh, filmmaker and academic Manohar Elevarthi.