ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ethnic Violence in Bodoland

Ethnicity and identity have been the key issues of mobilisation in all of north-east India. The region has had a long history of being marginalised; its inclusion in the Indian nation is seriously challenged by communities; and identity politics has shaped the politics of resistance. The struggle for power, both political and economic, has thus become bloodied. What lies behind the recent violence in Assam? The failure of the Sixth Schedule to deliver, the contest over land and resources, the lack of development, and the fear of disempowered smaller groups are all tangled in the web of electoral politics of the ruling classes.

Violence has been endemic in Assam as in most parts of north-east India for many decades now. Whenever such incidents happen it bri­ngs back a horrendous memory, the image of the Nellie massacre of 1983, when thousands of alleged illegal migrants were killed during the heat of the Assam movement. It is a past which has haunted people living in the region and is unfortunately repeated in various degrees.

Tension has been brewing in Bodoland and the adjoining areas for quite some time now. It all began with All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) calling for a 24-hour bandh on 29 May 2012 to protest against the alleged removal of a signboard by cadres of the ex-Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) from a piece of land in the Badlangmari area that had been allocated for a mosque.1 It was claimed that the area occupied for construction of the mosque was part of an encroached reserve forest. The bandh turned violent and 13 people were injured and vehicles were torched. After the incident the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) said that the ABMSU leadership was fuelling communal tension.

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