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Assam: Brutal Armed Group, Incompetent Administration
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
Protest against terrorist brutality in Bhimajuli, India

A legitimate government under the Indian constitution has the basic responsibility to ensure the protection of life and property of its population and if the citizens come forward raising voices against the insurgent (turned terrorist) outfits, it becomes the primary duty of the administration to provide security to those cognizant civilians. For any reason, if the government and administration can sleep over such developments, one might (should) term them not as inefficient, but as being cowardly surrendering to the militants.

The recent massacre of fifteen villagers, including women and children, at Bhimajuli of Sonitpur district in central Assam, can show, in one hand the barbaric attitude of the armed militant groups and in other hand, the callousness in the part of the government and the administration.

The armed cadres of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Ranjan Daimary faction) have proved beyond doubts that they have totally lost their direction and wisdom and slowly they turned themselves into some merciless killing machines, but without logic and heroism.

At the same time, it reveals how the State government, even after knowing that the Bhimajuli residents might face terror attacks because of non-payment of extortion money to the banned armed militants, could ignore till the gun overpowers them.

The people of Bhimajuli in Balichang area, which is around 300 km away from Guwahati, decided in a public meeting on October 1, that they would not further entertain the demands of the militants and hence would never pay the extortion money to the outfits.

Mentionable that the NDFB cadres distributed leaflets in the locality, where mainstream Assamese, Bodo, Tea tribe people and Gorkhalis (Nepali) live in harmony, and demanded huge amount of money from the residents.

But the strong message from the poor villagers was annoying (and unacceptable) to the militants and so they retaliated on October 4. Over ten people belonged to various communities lost their lives on the spot, as the NDFB rebels fired on them indiscriminately in the fateful evening.

The gory incident tempted the villagers of Bhimajuli and its adjacent areas to lodge protest against the police inaction during the militant attack. Hundreds local residents gathered in front of the Balichang police outpost and expressed their anger against the administration.

The tension was heightened as the local people got almost polarized between the Bodo tribe and non-Bodos. Finally the Army personnel had to be deployed in the locality to bring the situation into normalcy.

The massacre was shocking and it attracted massive media attention.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, the Assam government ministers like Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bharat Narah with the State police chief Shankar Barua rushed to spot. The State chief minister Tarun Gogoi visited the location on October 9 and talked to the victim families. Acknowledging the failure on the part of administration in ensuring safety to the people and pragmatic actions against the militancy, Gogoi declared a compensation of rupees five lakh each to the nearest relatives of the victims.

The incident of violence invited quick and harsh reaction from political party to advocacy and civil society groups. The main opposition political party in the State Asom Gana Parishad chief CM Patowary came with strong words against the chief minister Gogoi, as he also looks after the State home portfolio, for his failure to protect the live and property of common people in the State.

The AGP’s electoral partner in Assam, Bharatiya Janata Party (Assam unit) sent a memorandum to the President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, where it alleged that the Tarun Gogoi led government had failed to take affective initiative and measures to curb the escalating violence, created by various armed militants in the State.

Asserting that the tenure of Gogoi as the chief minister, witnessed the highest number of incidents of murder (11,170), kidnapping (15,415) and even rapes (9,687), the State BJP president Ramen Deka urged the President’s intervention to the worsening socio-political situation of the State.

Various protest programmes were organized by the influential All Assam Students’ Union, All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union, All Assam Tea Tribe Students’ Association against the slaughtering of people by the militants. The student organizations also criticized the government for its failure in its responsibility to protect the lives of citizens and bring peace and sustained normalcy to the State. The Nirjyatan Birodhi Oikya Mancha, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha with many other organizations also condemned the attack on innocent people by the armed militant groups.

Lately the journalists with eminent citizens, artists and social activists marched in the city streets to register their protest against terrorist brutality in Bhimajuli. They gathered at the Guwahati Press Club premises on October 15 and later paraded shouting slogans including ‘Hang the Terrorists’, ‘Down with Terrorism’, ‘We condemn Government Inaction,’ ‘Stop killing the Children’ etc.

Earlier a brief meeting was organized on the press club campus, which was addressed by the esteemed senior citizens namely Tulsi Govinda Baruah and Dhirendra Nath Chakrabarty. Both the speakers deplored the callous attitude of the administration and the government in dealing with the issue of terrorism.

The protesters came out following an appeal by a group of senior citizen-journalists to the people against the violent activities endorsed by all armed groups of the region. The appeal, signed by DN Bezboruah (former editor The Sentinel and former chairman of Editors’ Guild of India), DN Chakrabarty (former editor of Dainik Asom, Ajir Batori and Natun Dainik), Nirupama Borgohain (academy award winner littérateur and columnist), TG Baruah (chairman of The Assam Tribune group of newspapers) with Hiten Mahanta, Rupam Baruah, Mihir Deuri, Ranen K Goswami, Pramod Kalita, Sabita Lahkar, Mukul Kalita, N. Thakuria asserted that the armed cadres of the region had shown no respect for human values, as they could attack even the children for their vested interest and hence those rebels should be dealt with firm hands.

On the other hand, even after knowing that the residents of Bhimajuli area had decided not to pay extortion money to the militants in a public meeting, the administration failed to provide proper security arrangement for the villagers. The appeal concluded saying, “The authority turned a blind eye to the issue and thus surrendered to the gun-totting youths of the banned organization. And because of the reckless attitude and inaction on the part of the State government, over ten people, including women and children had to lose their precious lives.”



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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at navathakuria@gmail.com

 

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