New Delhi: 07/05/2014
A protest outside Assam Bhawan in New Delhi was organized today by New Socialist Initiative (NSI) against the gruesome massacre of Bengali speaking Muslims in Bodoland (Assam). According to latest official reports, 44 people have been killed, the majority being children and women. Death toll are further expected to rise considerably.
|The banner in Bodo language reads "Bodo people want peace not blood"|
Apart from large numbers of student activist and teachers from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia; representatives of National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association (JTSA), Coalition for Nuclear disarmament and Peace (CNDP), All India Students' Association (AISA), Bhumi Bachao Andolan, Kudai-e-Khidmatgar, Focus on Global South, People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), Jagori, Stree Mukti Sangathan, Association of Students' for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK), Jamia Students' Solidarity Forum (JSSF), Save Democracy and Repeal APFSA Group (SDRAG) and JNU Students' Union participated in the protest.
During the 2 hour long demonstration the protesters also submitted a memorandum address to Mr. Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam, which was received by Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of the office of Resident Commissioner. While condemning the massacre in strongest possible term, through the memorandum, the protesters demanded the following from Assam government:
- A high level judicial enquiry be instituted, as state (Assam) security forces have utterly failed to prevent the massacre and can not be relied upon to carry out fair and thorough investigations.
- Adequate compensation and rehabilitation package be provided to families of deceased and injured.
- Secured relief camps with adequate standards be provided to the victims till they feel confident to return to their villages.
- FIR be registered against Pramila Rani Brahma for her inflammatory public remarks.
- Since it has come to light that guns belonging to forest department have been used in the massacre and involvement of forest guards have been suspected, investigate the possible involvement of official and executive members of the forest department of Bodoland Territorial Council.
Through speeches and slogans protesters also highlighted the deplorable fact that while innocent civilians are massacred, certain sections of media and society have twisted the issue and are raising the bogey of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to cover up the causes of the violence.
The protesters also condemn the attempts of Assam government to divert attention from its utter failure in protecting lives of people by declaring that it is mulling to arm Bengali-speaking Muslims in BTAD area with licensed guns and has asked for applications from villagers. Protesters asserted that the need of the hour is to de-arm BTAD completely instead of arming further.
Speaking to media, New Socialist Initiative (NSI) representatives clarified that NSI does not demand that BTAD be scrapped. They pointed out that historically Bodo community has been one of the most oppressed community in Assam and the genuine democratic aspirations for greater political and economic autonomy of ordinary Bodo people should be respected. However, the genuine aspirations of the Bodo people have been completely hijacked by the politics of power mongering and of vested interests which can further only further it's interest at the cost of the rights of other ethnic groups as is being done for a decade by pitting ordinary Bodo people against similar non-Bodo people of the region. They stressed that instead of demanding that BTAD be scrapped, the demand should be that of revision and reworking of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Accord under which BTAD came into existence and is governed; so that democratic aspirations of all section of population in BTAD are upheld and gets realized.
Several leaders from the ruling Congress Party (both in Assam and outside) have opined that the Bodoland massacre is a direct outcome of Narendra Modi's never-ending diatribes against "illegal Bangladeshi migrants"; many on the left also thinks that to be the case. When asked by the journalists during the protest, NSI representatives pointed out that to see this massacre to have stemmed out of Modi's diatribes would amount to gross simplification of otherwise deep-rooted and complex causes behind the massacre. However, they also asserted that Modi's diatribes have created a political environment where it became easy for a section of the society and media to attempt and justify the massacre along communal lines by raising the bogey of 'Bangladeshis'.