The plight of Adivasi villagers living in Assam’s border continues to remain in shambles, as they were sought out again by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland’s (NDFB) Songbijit division for another cowardly attack. The most recent dastardly killing took place on Tuesday with extremists brandishing AK-47 guns, storming the Adivasi villages in over four locations in the areas bordering the Sontipur and Kokrajhar districts in Assam. The attack left over 69 settlers dead, with women and children constituting a major portion of this number.
This is not the first time
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This is not the first time the Adivasis have come under attack by the NDFB. There have been several instances in the past when these hapless settlers were considered as soft targets to masquerade the NDFB’s strength to Assam police officials as well as the army.
In 1996, continuous riots between the Bodos and Adivasis in Assam left 200 people dead and over 2.5 lakh people displaced. This was followed by another set of riots in 1998, which killed more individuals from both sides. It can be noted that even in these two attacks, the ones who faced the most brunt as well as had the most victims were the Adivasis.
The possible reasons for the attack
Several outfits, including the Bodos themselves who enjoy a sizeable population in Western Assam, condemned the attack. A lot of theories have been put forward citing the various possible reasons for the attack.
Some consider the attack to be a retaliation by the NDFB over the killing of two of its militants recently. Some others even cite the political demeaning of the outfit as the main reason for the attack. Accordingly, the Chief Minister of Assam, TarunGogoi has issued a statement on Tuesday about how the government need not be bothered by militant groups like NDFB-S when they had bigger outfits like the parent NDFB to worry about.
This apparently did not go down well with the NDFB-S which carried out the attacks mere hours after this announcement. The army has intensified it operations against the NDFB-S of late. Some perceive this to be the reason for the attack as well, probably the outfit’s way of showing its strength against the police and army.
Coordinated Attack on Non-Bodos
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That the Adivasis are considered as soft targets by the militants was confirmed again on Tuesday, with the outfit’s coordinated attack on selected hamlets dotting Assam’s border with neighboring Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.
Many believe that the militants wanted to kill as many non-bodos as possible, only targeting the hamlets located close to the forest so that it would be easier for them to move back after the attack as opposed to getting caught in the middle if they had to enter the state.
Even the Adivasis feel that the location of their villages near Assam’s border makes them easy targets for the NDFB militants. While many of them urge that the attack was probably the outfit’s personal agenda, other Adivasis feel that the outfit may have carried out the attack at the behest of other forces or political powers.
Strained relationships at the border
Assam’s Chief Minister has maintained that it would be difficult to catch hold of the NDFB-S outfit owing to the fact that it operates from the dense jungles bordering Assam, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. A number of leaders have been making their way through the villages and the relief camps set up in them, urging the inhabitants of both communities to remain calm. Maximum efforts are being made to retain peace in the area for now until further measures are sought out to handle the NDFB’s continuous attacks on the Adivasis.
The Advasis settled on Assam’s border encountered another attack by the NDFB-S which left 69 people dead. The reasons for the attack are still not clear, with many leaders condemning the act and claiming the Adivasis to be soft, easy targets for these militants.