Kokrajhar: Home Minister P Chidambaram and senior BJP leader LK Advani are expected to visit the violence-hit areas of Assam, including Kokrajhar, on Monday. It's been a week since the Bodos and the Muslims clashed in Kokrajhar, before the violence spread to surrounding areas leaving over 40 dead and over two lakh displaced in the ethnic riots.
Abdul Ali Mondal, a resident of the Joypur village, the epicentre of the violence, took CNN-IBN to the exact location where cadres of the disbanded insurgent outfit Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) were hacked to death on July 20.
From there, the riots spread like wildfire around Kokrajhar.
Says Mondal, "For some days before July 20, former BLT cadres were circling this area on their bikes, harassing people. They also shot members of our student organisations."
Another resident, Jamir Ali Mondal, says that land rights were one of the root cause of the violence. "The Bodoland Territorial Council decided that forest land used as Idgah Maidan was an illegal encroachment. That's what I heard," he says.
Today, Joypur still wears a deserted look, except for an occasional vehicle zooming past. The tension is written all over the area. While relief measures have been announced, different interest groups from both the communities insist that their version of the story is correct.
The Bodo-Muslim antagonism
In the Bodoland Territorial Administrative District, the demand for a separate state has been underlined many times. Their struggle that involved thousands of people, still continues and led to the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) that has blamed illegal migrants from Bangladesh (mostly Muslims) for all the trouble in the region.
'Drive them out' is their slogan.
This riot has also played out as a Bodo-Muslim conflict, though the causes are much deeper and sometimes unknown.
The Prime Minister during his visit was particular to visit camps of both communities. A Muslim camp at Bhootgaon then became the centre of attention. However, a day after the PM's visit, the relief camp moved away from the spotlight and went back to its uneasy, uncertain pace of life.
Be it Bodos or Muslims, most of the two lakh refugees affected in the violence are just plain people who have been used and victimised.
Says Moin-ul Haque, Founder President of the ABMSU, "It was all staged like a play for the PM. It's over now. Who cares if both communities live or die? The Bodoland People's Front and Assam government are playing politics."
With allegations and counter-allegations as the turf war intensifies, it seems that the horror might not yet be over for people from both communities.