Assam violence: Rights body criticise NCM for being biased against Bodos

Published 12 September 2012  |  
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to clarify its position with respect to the status of the Bodos as religious minorities considering that majority of the Bodos follow their animist "Bathou" religion and Christianity.

A team of the National Commission for Minorities consisting of the Member of the Planning Commission, Dr Syeda Hameed, Advisor to the Planning Commission Dr GB Panda, and Member of the NCM, Keki N Daruwalla visited Assam on 11-12 August 2012 and released "Report on Visit to Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) and Dhubri District in Assam".

ACHR in its report, "National Commission for Minorities: Communalising Assam Riots?" had questioned the report of being biased against the Bodos and not respecting the NCM Act.

The NCM in its reply to the ACHR stated that its report was not biased.

Violence between Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslim settlers in the districts have so far killed over 90 people and displaced over four lakh people.

ACHR has criticised the refusal by the Army to be deployed in the riot affected areas, worsening the situation. The rights body demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh order an inquiry and "take necessary measures including disciplinary action for criminal dereliction of duty by the Army".

"The recent riots in Assam were absolutely preventable but not prevented because of the criminal dereliction of duty by officials starting from the Officer-in-Charge of Kokrajhar Police Station to the highest authorities of India's military establishment i.e. Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Chief of the Army Staff, Director General Military Operations and the Commander of the Eastern Command," said the ACHR Director Suhas Chakma.

"The refusal of the army to be deployed directly led to increased loss of lives, displacement and consequent spread of hatred in the country. Both under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 wherein the Army operates in aid of civil power and the Sections 130 and 131 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the army is legally bound to obey the orders of the civilian authorities. By the time the Army moved in on 25 July 2012, about 44 persons were killed and over 200,000 were displaced. There must be accountability for such criminal dereliction of duty," said Chakma.

ACHR in its latest report "Assam Riots: Preventable but not prevented" stated that a number of anti-tribal secular activists from mainland India and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) have been distorting and misinterpreting facts that caused the riots and further interpret the riots along the communal lines.

ACHR lamented that a number of anti-tribal secular activists have described the riots as ethnic cleansing and the autonomous councils of the tribals as "incentivising ethnic cleansing" when both the communities were affected in the riots and each time the riots started and spread because of the abysmal failure of the State to enforce the law.

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