The terror attack in Kokrajhar, coming as it did close on the heels of floods in Assam, poses a big challenge to the first-ever BJP government in the State. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal visited the market place, where terrorists gunned down 14 civilians, and has urged the Centre to redeploy 75 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces, which were withdrawn after the recent assembly polls. Understandable, as he wants to instil confidence among the people and restore a sense of security. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while fully empathising with the State, lost no time in pointing fingers at foreign agencies.
On the face of it, the attack on innocent civilians at a crowded place seems to be the handiwork of jihadi terror outfits. But Assam being Assam, the State and Central governments would be well advised not to jump the gun. Available evidence suggests one faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland could be behind the cowardly attack. The militancy in the district, which is predominantly populated by Bodos, dates back to the 1980s. Innumerable violent incidents and several peace efforts later, even today, the Bodos’ genuine grievances have not been addressed effectively. Hence, it is no surprise that Kokrajhar and other areas continue to simmer with the struggle between Bodos and non-Bodos intensifying and, even Islamic fundamentalists throwing their hat in the ring.
The Union and State governments must speed up efforts to consolidate gains made in the fight against militancy and at the same time, try to address the problems of indigenous Bodos and other tribals in the State. The atmosphere of hate must give way to one of reconciliation if the State has to develop. True, external elements will try to fish in troubled waters, which is why the BJP government must keep its focus on its electoral promise of curbing illegal immigrations and fencing the borders.