02, Nov 2018 | Zamser Ali
Five persons, reportedly belonging to the Dalit Bengali Hindu section of the population, were killed in a brute action of open firing at the Kherbari Village that falls under the Dhola Police Station of the Tinisukia District of Assam. It has been so far been widely reported that the ULFA (independent) cadre of five-six persons clad in the uniform of the Army, entered the village, called on the hapless persons to come out of their homes. Thereafter they opened fire on them that resulted in the five bloody deaths.
(Content warning: This piece contains graphic images)
The incident took place only 300 feet from the local police outpost. Telephonic conversations of SabrangIndia, CJP’s sister concern, with local people, who requested anonymity, alleged that all mobile numbers of the police personnel on duty at the outpost were unavailable when the victim population desperately made calls requesting protection. There is a serious concern about the probability of more such attacks.
The CJP team is committed to ensuring peace through constant reportage of hate speeches. In its efforts to help the people of Assam so that they can have a fair chance at filing of claims for NRC across 18 of the worst affected districts, our team has come across this grave situation of possible flare-ups between communities in Assam. We need your support in reporting the situation from ground and ensure timely and effective interventions. . Please support our efforts and stand with the people of Assam
Represented by an intemperate leader from the BJP, Tinsukia has been simmering with communal tensions since September. SabrangIndia had reported, that over five days in September 2018, the district had been witnessing acute communal flare-ups. Until now, there have been several reported attacks, targeted at the Muslim minority in the District, and two group clashes have also been witnessed.
The killings on the late evening of Thursday, November 1, take place in an atmosphere of extreme tension and polarisation. Over the last few days, there has been prevailing war of words between the surrendered ULFA leaders and controversial BJP MLA, a Bengali leader Siladitya Dev. The BJP MLA has been reportedly, continuously making controversial and provocative remarks against some organizations representing Assamese society and surrendered ULFA militants. This has led to a bitter war of words with the surrendered ULFA leaders also reportedly making provocative speeches against the BJP Leader and MLA Siladitya Dev and the Bengali community at large. It was in this atmosphere of extreme provocation and polarisation that the tragic shootings of tonight have taken place. The slain persons were identified as Subal Das, Shyamol Biswas, Abinash Biswas, Dhananjoy Namasudra and Ananta Biswas, reported Shillong Times. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Trinamool Congress will take out rallies in different parts of north and south Bengal to protest the killing of people from her state, NDTV reports.
Meanwhile, Debabrata Saikia, leader of the opposition in the Assam assembly has sharply condemned the attack. “I condemn the cold-blooded killing of at least four-five Bengali speakers in Bisonibari of Dhola, Tinsukia district. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I had warned during my press conference today that the policy of polarization tacitly condoned or even sponsored by the BJP-led governments in Assam might lead to a gory conflict. Shame on the BJP! Your greed for votes has claimed the first innocent ethnic-clash victims today in Assam.
I appeal to all sections of the people of Assam to exercise restraint despite flagrant attempts to foment a violent confrontation. The Government must ensure safety and security to life and property of all people living in the state.”
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also condemned “the killing of innocent people” and conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved families. “Strong action will be taken against the perpetrators of this dastardly violence. We will not tolerate such cowardly act,” he told PTI. Sonowal said he has directed state ministers Keshav Mahanta and Tapan Gogoi along with DGP Kuladhar Saikia to rush to the spot. “We will not spare the culprits of the killings and will be brought to book,” he said. The chief minister appealed to the people of Assam to maintain peace and harmony. He also directed all deputy commissioners and SPs to remain alert.
Siladitya Dev’s Controversial Record
Dev’s extreme and provocative speeches have continued to fan tensions and hatred in the area. The state unit of the ruling party had been caught in a bind over the process of recording the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and its capricious policies around the Citizenship Bill sought to be thrust down on the people of Assam, Dev has been simultaneously criticising the NRC itself while pushing for the Citizenship Bill. Weeks ago, an Assam Bandh opposing the Citizenship Bill was a resounding success despite all manners of coercive tactics employed by the government to prevent small and big businesses and government servants participating in the state wide protest. Ever since the saffron party won power in this north eastern state, acute tensions and polarisations have percolated to the polity.
In the oil-rich town of Doomdooma, the first Communal clash broke out on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi festival. On the same day, September 13, on Rajendra Prasad road, some Muslims began to practice with the Tajia procession, on the eve the Muharram processions. This rehearsal of the Tajia procession started from the Muslim populated area of the town after 10 pm. Close by, celebrations around the Ganesh Puja had been going on since the early hours of the same day. Though the minority population is barely five per cent targeted incidents have been reported.