Monday, June 24, 2024
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Gathering storm

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There is no end to problems in Assam. Kokrajhar and its neighbourhood districts in lower Assam were haunted by the fear that Diwali would see violence erupting again. In the past week, there were three deaths which gave rise to the apprehension that a fresh wave of ethnic violence might grip the region as it did in July and August claiming 99 lives. The three recent deaths had been attributed to rising tension in Bodo pockets of Kokrajhar and Chiang districts. The situation has been unsettled by the rehabilitation of displaced Bengali speaking Muslims from relief camps. According to Security officials, these deaths cannot be regarded as sporadic incidents and a flare up is not unlikely if preventive measures are not taken. It is far from surprising that Assam Home Secretary G. D Tripathi has taken a complacent attitude. Security forces, he says, are taking action and the army is poised to counter violent activities. However, a Muslim Tea Company owner, Adilur Rahman has at the same time been killed by the Ranjan Daimary faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. According to official estimates, more than 4.5 lakh people belonging to Muslim and Bodo communities had been displaced in the recent turmoil. About 39, 000 people are yet to be rehabilitated. This is bound to cause tension.

The Border Guards of Bangladesh have flatly denied that there has been any influx into the north-east from Bangladesh. It is obviously far from the truth. Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid should lose no time in holding talks with the Bangladesh Government to check illegal immigration to India. The recent visit of opposition leader Khaleda Zia has set the stage for amicable negotiations between the two neighbours.

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