July 24, 2012
Muslims are the worst affected as section of Bodo tribals see even indigenous Muslims as settles from Bangladesh. Scores of villages had been set afire while exodus was on from large parts of the Bodoland Territorial Administrative Districts (BTAD).
The violence began when two Muslim leaders were shot dead. This led to reprisal and a series of violent attacks from both sides. The ethnic Bodo tribals who consider Bengali speaking Muslims as immigrants, targeted the religious minority.
Though official figure of those who died in the violence was 32 (the figure later rose to 65 and finally to 73), it is feared that the real number of those who died in the communal riots could have been much higher. Nearly 1,70,000 people, mostly Muslims, had been displaced and were moving to Dhubri and other parts.
The majority of the dead were Muslims. But Bodos have also suffered in the cycle of violence. While Army had been rushed, the clashes were still on. Due to fear of a genocide, minority community in hundreds of villages took their belongings and left the territory. Assam has been a volatile place for decades, as propaganda against Muslims has led to tension.
Incidentally, a Nepali migrant doesn't need a passport and is allowed to enter India, the situation is different in case of Bangladesh. Besides, even native Assamese and Bengali Muslims are termed as migrants and settlers.
'Illegal' migration has been a big issue in North East. BJP has also been in the forefront, raising the bogey of mass immigration of Muslims, thus stoking fear among tribals that they will become a minority in their own state.
Assam has seen even worst phases of Hindu-Muslim riots and ethnic violence in the past. In Neilly, thousands of Muslims were butchered in 1983. The ruling Congress party has sent its ministers to the region affected by the rioting. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has hoped that the situation will improve soon.
The Indian government has taken stern action against those fuelling rumours. The violence has been largely controlled. Hence, all citizens are urged, not give attention to provocative messages on social media, and esnure communal harmony.