The violence in Assam has not yet subdued; it is, in fact, rising and spreading across the entire country. When I first covered the foundation of the Assam riots, I expected the violence to cease pretty soon, but the incidents that took place in the past week made me realize that nothing is under control even now. I decided to write another post on the Assam riots, as a follow up of the previous coverage to give you all a brief overview of the current situation and the events that led us to this state.
On the 7th of August, the Centre ordered CBI probe into the continued ethnic clashes in Assam to identify the perpetrators of this constant violence. The CBI started its investigation and as a result announced a reward of 1 lac rupees to any person who gives valuable information in regard with the people responsible for the riots.
On August 8 and 9, ten north-eastern students and professionals were allegedly beaten up my miscreants belonging to a minority community in Pune. The north-eastern people started living indoors and police protection was increased to ensure their safety.
The severity of the violence was further witnessed when it mushroomed in Mumbai, on August 11, killing 2 people and injuring many others. The basic reason for the aggression in Mumbai was the anger of the protestors because of poor media coverage of the violence against the Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. People involved were fuming because the Indian media extensively cover news related to the Olympics, Gurudwara Attacks, children falling in wells etc.. but the massacres and violence that needs attention is neglected. Consequently, police officers and media persons were attacked, their vehicles were burnt and damaged and stones were thrown at them. The Amar Jawaan Memorial at the CST station was desecrated. There were provocative speeches against the media and the crowd continuously shouted slogans like- ‘Media ko bhaga do‘ (Drive the media away). Eight policemen are still in critical condition after being attacked. The accused were arrested on 12 August and police custody of all the 23 has been extended to avoid serious repurcussions.
Two labourers of Assam’s Kokrajhar district, who were travelling in the Ernakulam Express, were attacked at Palasa railway station in Andhra Pradesh last Tuesday, reported the Economic Times.
On August 16, curfew was imposed in Rangiya sub-division of Kamrup district after unidentified people set ablaze many vehicles and a wooden bridge.
Th death toll due to the Assam violence has risen to 78 and the number of people living in the refugee camps is over 5 lacs now. North-eastern people in other cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune are being threatened via the internet and hate SMSs. This has added to the tension urging about 95000 people from Bangalore alone to flee to their respective home-towns in the north-east. The police is on vigil and miscreants spreading such rumours and threats are being arrested. B Mohammad Sheikh Hassain was taken into custody in Coimbatore for sending 200 hate SMSs. Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has been strongly advocating the involvement of foreign hands in the riots but any strong evidence has not been found yet.
The Union Home Ministry has banned bulk SMSs and MMSs for 15 days to quell the rumours and threats. Social Media Sites have also been asked to remove objectionable content by the regulatory authorities. Special trains have been introduced by the Railways to meet the rush of people running back to the north east.
Another horrendous incident took place when people were beaten and pushed out of Guwahati-bound train in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Four people were killed in this assault based on the reports published on August,20. This proves that Government efforts have also been ineffective in curbing the violence.
The Hindu reported that Kerala-based Popular Front of India has come under the scanner of intelligence agencies for its suspected role in spreading inflammatory SMSs and MMSs following Assam violence, that triggered exodus of northeastern people from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The government further blocked over 250 websites which contained morphed images of the Assam violence to incite the Muslims and scare the people belonging to the north-east. A Pakistan-based hardline group is suspected to have been involved in doctoring images and spreading them across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.
A seven-member central team visited the Assam relief camps yesterday(21 August) and assured the camp inmates of security and adequate supply of food and water. This team included the Joint Secretaries of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Drinking Water, Disaster Management etc..
The Assam government claimed ‘some people’ were on their way back to south India after the recent mass exodus from there; reported the DNA.
The Assam riots have affected a large part of the Indian population and it has spread among the masses. A dispute between the Assamese ‘Bodos’ and the Bangladeshi ‘Muslims’ has now become more of a North-Eastern Hindu- Muslim riot shaking our unity and sovereignty. We hope that the people involved in this unrest become more sensitive and level-headed and work to establish peace and harmony throughout the country.
Let’s stand up for India! Jai Hind!
Sources : NDTV, Daily News and Analysis(DNA), The Hindu, Economic Times, Wikipedia, Times of India, Mid-Day