10 Things: About the Muslim killings in Assam

Updated 07 May 2014

10 Things: About the Muslim killings in Assam

1. Black Friday: The death toll has reached 44 in May 2 (Friday) massacres of Muslims in the two districts of Kokrajhar and Baksa in India’s northeast Assam Province. More than 50 houses were put on fire too.
2. Who did it?: The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) extremists rained bullets on the poor villagers in 4 different attacks.
3. Welcome, India election 2014: Which sets off hate waves, violent fallouts and then a series of blame-games. Is democracy going to the dogs?
4. But, who ignited it: Congress blames it on BJP that under radical leaders like Narendra Modi, a PM hopeful, it raked up migration issue and issued ultimatum to ‘illegal’ Muslims to leave. Since Congress is in power, one can ask it to explain its role too.
5. Is this a religious dispute?: Which is what BJP would like to make it out to be for cheap political gains. The issue is one of bitter cocktail of ethnic problems and competition for resources that have troubled this region.
6. Back to normal: Over 30 people have been arrested, curfew clamped and Assam CM Tarun Gogoi assured the riot affected of justice and “all help” to calm the situation.
7. Simmering tension: Persisting for years, the ethnic tension cropped up in the same region in 2012 that was possibly India’s worst case of mass human displacement owing to Bodo violence.
8. Gray area: Were they (those killed) Bangladeshis or Indians? There is a thin line between inward migration and illegal immigration from across the border. Politics then chip in to play its own dirty part.
9. Vested political interest: BJP is giving a communal color to the issue; but Bodos are killing them for land, resources and hegemony.
10. Muslim reaction: Largely restrained. From Jamaate Islami in India to OIC — all have condemned the killing and demanded action.

10 things about what the issue is all about

1. Bodos are Assam’s biggest tribal group. Their major districts like Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri became autonomous districts (BTAD) in 2003 following an armed Bodo movement since 1990.
2. BTAD however is as much home to Muslims, OBCs and other groups as it is to the Bodos.
3. Kokrajhar in particular has a highly mixed population of Bodos, Santhals, Bengali-speaking Hindus and Muslims; and every group wants a share in administration.
4. Muslims’ rising population became an issue, which was attributed variably to inward migration, illegal immigration and even population growth.
5. While BJP sees it as a rising powerful vote bank helping Congress, Bodos are concerned about their hegemony in the region.
6. Journalist Nilin Dutta doesn’t think it to be a Mexican case of illegal immigration? It’s a migration of Bengali peasants from Bengal to settle in Assam and hence they are very much Indians, he says.
7. Illegal immigration is an issue too. Since 1971, many illegal Bangladeshis poured into India due to a 4,096-km-long porous India-Bangladesh border. Who helped create Bangladesh?
8. Muslims are concerned about prevalence of huge weapons in the possession of Bodo insurgents. The question is who is supplying them arms? Which foreign hand is working here, and who will disarm them?
9. Let all these multi-tribal areas be placed under a federal setup. How about a new Union Territory?
10. It’s a land problem and it should be seen in that context only. The center and state governments can separately deal with illegal Bangladeshis’ problem.

Email: [email protected]

Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

Updated 21 July 2019

Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

  • Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately
  • Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month

HONG KONG: Protesters in Hong Kong pressed on Sunday past the designated end point for a march in which tens of thousands repeated demands for direct elections in the Chinese territory and an independent investigation into police tactics used in previous demonstrations.

Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately. Others continued toward Central, a key business and retail district and the site of the 2014 Umbrella Movement sit-ins.

Large protests began last month in opposition to a contentious extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the bill dead, but protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the bill. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns about the steady erosion of civil rights in city.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, and was promised certain democratic freedoms under the framework of 'one country, two systems.' Fueled by anger at Lam and an enduring distrust of the Communist Party-ruled central government in Beijing, the demonstrations have ballooned into calls for electoral reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Walking in sweltering heat, protesters dressed in black kicked off Sunday’s march from a public park, carrying a large banner that read 'Independent Inquiry for Rule of Law.' 'Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!' the protesters chanted, forming a dense procession through Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district as they were joined by others who had been waiting in side streets.

“I think the government has never responded to our demands,” said Karen Yu, a 52-year-old Hong Kong resident who has attended four protests since last month. “No matter how much the government can do, at least it should come out and respond to us directly.”

Marchers ignored orders from police to finish off the procession on a road in Wan Chai, according to police and the Civil Human Rights Front, the march’s organizers. Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month.

Their main demands include universal suffrage — direct voting rights for all Hong Kong residents — as well as dropping charges against anti-extradition protesters, withdrawing the characterization of a clash between police and protesters as a 'riot' and dissolving the Legislative Council.                   

Protesters read the demands aloud in both English and Cantonese in videos released Saturday. “We did not want to embark on this path of resisting tyranny with our bare bodies,” they said, “but for too long, our government has lied and deceived, and refused to respond to the demands of the people.”

While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some confrontations between police and protesters have turned violent. In Sha Tin district last Sunday, they beat each other with umbrellas and bats inside a luxury shopping center. Demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council building on July 1 by moving past barricades and shattering windows.

Meanwhile, police officers have used pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets to quell the crowds.On Friday, Hong Kong police discovered a stash of a powerful homemade explosive and arrested a man in a raid on a commercial building.

Materials voicing opposition to the extradition bill were found at the site, local media said, but a police spokesman said no concrete link had been established and the investigation was continuing.