Background to the Recent Violence in Assam – Barun Das Gupta



From the first week of July, Assam has seen widespread clashes between the Bodo tribals and the Bengali Muslims living in the Bodoland Terrtiorial Autonomous Districts in southern Assam. It is primarily and basically a fight for land. The land hunger of the Bengali Muslims leads them to grab land by encroaching on reserve forests and wild life sanctuaries. The Bodos resent and resist this and try to dislodge them. This leads to clashes. In fact the Bodos do not want non-Bodos to live in their territory but they understand this is not possible and have sullenly reconciled themselves to this reality.

The Bodo-Muslims clashes have taken place earlier also. The first recorded one was in 1952. Then in 1993 and 1994 and again in 2008. There have been inter-tribal clashes between the Bodos and Santhals also. In 1998, there were widesread clashes, with the Santhals at the receiving end. Thousands of Santhals had to flee their hearths and homes and take shelter in relief camps.

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