Kokrajhar Violence : Another Assault on the Inncocent – Patricia Mukhim


The news of a terrorist attack happening in a crowded market in Kokrajhar early today (Aug 5, 2016) is shocking. Assam's rural population is yet to recover from the trauma of losing their family members and belongings in the recent floods and now they have to deal with this new threat. I use the word 'new threat' because the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) led by IK Songbijit had gone under cover for a while now. In July last year the National Investigating Agency (NIA) filed charge sheets in five cases against 26 NDFB (S) militant accused in the killing of tribal villagers and members of the minority community in three districts last year. Since then the NIA has filed several charge sheets against individual members of the outfit.

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The agency filed three charge sheets against 18 militants of the NDFB (S) accused of killing 41 tribal villagers in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts in December 2014.  Then a supplementary charge sheet was filed against six militants along with two others in a separate case also in July 2015 in addition to the one filed against two militants in October 2014 for their alleged involvement in the killing of 39 members of the minority community in Baksa district in May 2014. The NIA has been doing its investigative job quite well.

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The NDFB(S) on its part seems to be pursuing the agenda of its mother outfit the NDFB led by Ranjan Daimary (now in custody) which is to carry out an ethnic cleansing to justify the claims for a separate state of Bodoland. The current population and demographic structure does not support this demand.

Ever since the Narendra Modi Government was installed at the Centre, the Union Home Ministry has been making concerted attempts to go after the NDFB(S). The NIA charge sheets are a result of this targeted of the Home Ministry. The NDFB(S) has not taken too kindly to the charge sheets filed against its cadres and had vowed to take its revenge on the NIA. The tragedy is that the outfit has used the dead bodies of ordinary citizens as its trophies. Can there be a worse irony than this?

The BTC supremo, Hagrama Mohilary, a former militant himself has today given a statement that the State should be prepared for many more such suicide squads. Normally terrorists choose their prey with caution. They do not usually inflict too many civilian casualties, especially among the ethnic groups they claim to represent, for fear of losing public support and also losing the argument that they are fighting for that particular ethnic community. This time the NDFB(S) seems to have thrown caution to the winds and to hit where it hurts. In the bargain they have also lost at least three of their cadres.

What will follow this attack is a clean up operation where ordinary people would be termed "suspects," their homes raided and the rigmarole of hunting for the terrorists would follow. Allegations of army high-handedness and rape would ensue and the cycle of revenge will start in right earnest. Is this the kind of life that people are destined to enjoy in India's democracy? Clearly, there is need for a policy on tackling terror which so far was known by the euphemism of "militancy," or "insurgency." The liberals term this as a freedom movement. But whose freedom are terrorists such as the NDFB (S) fighting for? Do they have the mandate of the people of Bodoland? Isn't it time for the Bodo people to say what they really want? Their fight for a homeland (separate state) can be appreciated but do they welcome such violent methods as used by the NDFB(S). This is a question that the people of Bodoland need to seriously debate.

Consulting editor TNT-The northeast today

 Patricia Mukhim 

The writer is the Consulting editor of TNT-The Northeast Today and also the editor for The Shillong Times and a Padmashree awardee