Minorities Commission communalizing Assam riots

 

NEW DELHI, Aug 21: The Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report “National Commission for Minorities: Communalising Assam Riots?” released to the media stated that the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is communalizing riots in Assam. A team of the NCM consisting of Planning Commission Member Dr Syeda Hameed, Advisor Dr GB Panda, and member of the NCM Keki N Daruwalla visited the riot affected areas of western Assam on August 11-12 2012 and submitted a report.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights stated that the mandate of the NCM as per the National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992 is the protection of religious minorities notified by the Government of India.

However, the NCM ignored the fact that at least 15 per cent of the Bodos are Christians while about 50 per cent of the Bodos follow their own animist religion “Bathou” and therefore, fall under the definition of “minorities” under the NCM Act. However, the NCM effectively reduced the riots in Assam to “Bodos” Vs “Muslims” wherein the Muslims have been defined as “minorities”, therefore, falling within the mandate of the NCM and the Bodos have been defined as a majority in clear violation of the NCM Act.

The NCM Act does not include “ethnic minorities” and in terms of ethnicity, all the ethnic groups in Bodoland feel they are minority.

Further, the NCM delegation visited only one Bodo camp i.e. Vidyapeeth High School at Kokrajhar town and six Muslim relief camps. The Vidyapeeth High School is in the heart of Kokrajhar town, the headquarters of the BTAD and therefore, its condition is better than other Bodo relief camps and therefore, the inferences drawn by the NCM are inaccurate.

“The NCM failed to ensure impartiality at a time when it is clear that both the Bodos and Muslims are scared to return to their respective villages surrounded by the other community. Despite this reality, the NCM concluded that in the case of the Muslims abandoning their villages and their houses being looted and gutted, there is a “design to see that they do not return to their own villages”, while with respect to the Bodo houses being looted and gutted, the NCM stated that the Bodos did to themselves,” said Suhas Chakma, Director of Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights.

As over 6,000 people from the North East India assembled at Bangalore Railway station on August 15, the NCM released its report which stated that “the conflict was unequal as the Bodos were killing Muslims with AK-47s and there is impending fear of militant jihadis supplying arms to Assam”.  The NCM made these statements when the Press until today has not been disclosing the identities of the victims even those who were thrown off the trains while fleeing in order to prevent further escalation of the conflicts.

“The biased and inflammatory report of the NCM further contributed to the vulnerability of the northeastern people and the feelings among them that the NCM is not for their protection even if majority of them are Christians and had nothing to with the riots in Assam. Though 50,000 northeastern people have fled from mainland India in the last one week and a majority of them are Christians, the NCM failed to stand up for these Christian minorities from the northeast,” further added Chakma.

In view of the biased report of the NCM, there is a clamour growing demanding the visit of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes that is mandated to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes including the Bodos.

“A report by the NCST focusing on the rights of the tribals at this moment is neither likely to contribute to the reconciliation that is indispensable nor undo the “communalisation” of the riots in Assam by the NCM,” also asserted Chakma.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights urged the National Human Rights Institutions not to communalise riots which start over local domination.

Courtesy: The Sentinel, 22 August 2012, http://www.sentinelassam.com/mainnews/story.php?sec=1&subsec=0&id=129013&dtP=2012-08-22&ppr=1#129013

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