10 Things: About the Muslim killings in Assam

Updated 07 May 2014
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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.

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Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

Updated 40 min 40 sec ago
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Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

  • The city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists
  • Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A series of explosions was heard in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, shortly before the opening of polls in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Multiple blasts were heard at about 6A.M. (0500 GMT), locals said. There was no immediate indication of the cause.

But the city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists and has been repeatedly attacked during their nearly 10-year insurgency that has devastated the remote region.

Polls open at 0700 GMT, with President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general who has vowed to defeat the jihadists, seeking a second term.

Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections.

One resident in the Gomari neighborhood of Maiduguri said: “I heard several explosions coming from the Bulumkutu area this morning but it’s unclear what is happening.

“There have been suspicions that it was an attack by Boko Haram but we don’t know yet.”

He added: “Late yesterday (Friday), some gunmen went into the house of a man in Gomari and shot him dead. We still don’t know the motive.”

Two other residents gave a similar account.

The early morning explosions in Maiduguri come after a Boko Haram attack late on Friday on Zabarmari village, some 10 kilometers outside Maiduguri.

The attack forced residents to flee into the city.