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.

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Explosion as fire breaks out at Iranian industrial complex

Updated 23 min 12 sec ago

Explosion as fire breaks out at Iranian industrial complex

  • Six storage tanks had caught fire, including the one that exploded, an Iranian official said

Iranian police are investigating after a fire broke out at an industrial complex in northeast Iran where gas condensate storage tanks are sited, one of which exploded, the Mehr news agency reported on Monday.
Javad Jahandoust, the fire chief at the Kavian Fariman industrial complex, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the city of Mashhad, was quoted as saying six storage tanks had caught fire, including the one that exploded.
He said the fire was under control and there were no casualties, but police were investigating the cause.
There have been several explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities since late June.
On Sunday, the official IRNA news agency reported a fire at a petrochemical facility in southwest Iran, which was blamed on an oil leak. There were no casualties.