ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Note on Recent Ethnic Violence in Assam

The complexity of the recent ethnic violence in Assam has its roots going as far back as the early 20th century. With the various ethnic militant outfits having no clear-cut policy regarding the other groups, while some demonstrate a knee-jerk reaction leading to horrendous acts of ethnic cleansing, there seems to be no other thought than domination of the Other. A democratic perspective is singularly missing. What is the centre's outlook on these contentious issues?

In the last quarter of 2013, in fact, soon after the announcement of the formation of a separate Telangana state, violence erupted in several regions of Assam with significant tribal populations, almost as if on cue. In the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) area, thousands of tribal youth – both men and women – decked out in warpaint and Apache haircuts, sat down on rail tracks threatening to cut off communications with the rest of the country unless their demand for a separate state was met. Almost all organised Bodo groups supported them vocally.

The All Koch-Rajbangshi Students’ Union (AKRSU), the militant students’ organisation of the Koch-Rajbangshis, who have nursed a long grievance for having been cut out of a deal between the government and the Bodos in the accord forming the BTC, in spite of being as indubitably autochthonous as the Bodos, also began to breathe fire and raise vehement demands for a separate state of their own, scissored out of areas of West Bengal and Assam, not excluding the BTC. Panicking at their own prospects, immigrant Muslims, adivasis transplanted in the 19th century from Chota Nagpur by the British, and the Assamese (new settlers or people who had been there for ages), banded together on a common platform to voice their own opposition to such demands.

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