BISWANATH CHARIALI (ASSAM):At least 68 of the 79 people, who lost their lives in the bloodbath in Assam, were Adivasis. But, were they really the targets of the militants?
Various factors, from politics to alleged provocations by the establishment, are being cited as reasons for the mayhem. But, what few will dispute is that the Adivasis have often been the “soft targets” of the militants.
The violence has been condemned by all communities, including the Bodos. This is the third major attack on the Adivasis in Western Assam, where the Bodos have a sizeable population. Over 200 lives were lost and 2.5 lakh people displaced in the 1996 riots between the Adivasis and the Bodos. Two years
later, another round of violence left several others dead. In both these attacks, the victims were mostly Adivasis. The massacre on Tuesday was coordinated. The militants of the Sangbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) had selectively targeted hamlets on Assam’s borders with Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.
Apparently, they wanted to kill as many non-Bodos as possible. “They (militants) wanted to kill as many people as possible. They targeted the border villages, which are inhabited by the Adivasis. As they had to go back to the jungles after carrying out the attacks, they didn’t take the risk of entering too much into the state,” a defence source told Express.
Pointing out that the NDFB Sangbijit faction operates from the jungles of Arunachal and Bhutan, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said it makes the task of the security forces difficult. Asked about the selective killings of the Adivasis, he said, “It is very difficult to say why the Adivasis were targeted. You never know when and where these people will unleash terror.”
The attacks were seemingly in retaliation against the killings of two NDFB men recently.
Also, provocations, in the form of casual remarks by the establishment trivialising the outfit, and also politics were being cited as the reasons.
“They (militants) targeted the Adivasis as they live close to the border with Bhutan and Arunachal. They, perhaps, wanted to fulfil their own agenda or the agenda of some forces at work,” said All Bodo Students’ Union president Pramode Bodo.
The Adivasis too feel that they were the soft targets of the militants. “No doubt that our people are the soft targets of the militants. But, who knows there could also be politics behind the massacre. The militants might have unleashed the attacks at the behest of some forces,” president of the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Union.
Both Kujur and Pramode are among leaders moving around relief camps and villages of both communities, urging people to maintain calm. Restoring peace and tranquility in the affected districts is now high on the agenda of the government.