Grief and outrage over merciless killing of women and children in Assam in the din of elections
May 08, 2014
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned the gruesome massacre in Assam that has claimed the lives of 43 people, most of them being women and children, at the hands of Bodo militants. The victims were predominantly Bengali speaking Assamese Muslims living in the Bodo Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). The massacre is directly related to the election where divisive and hateful rhetoric demonizing Assamese Muslims as “illegal immigrants” has been used to incite violence and advance a sectarian agenda.
The brutal killings are a grim reminder of the pogrom of 2012, in which hundreds were killed, and over 400,000 people displaced. The violence marked the largest internal displacement of people in India since the Partition in 1947. Experts agree that the violence and resulting displacement of indigenous Assamese Muslims is designed to make them “illegal” in their own country, and justify their disenfranchisement.
The canard of illegal “Bangladeshi” immigrants has been used primarily by the Hindu nationalist BJP as a red herring in order to leverage ethnic rivalry between Bodos and Muslims and gain political mileage. The mass killings, and their justification by political forces inimical to the minorities has been rightly condemned by conscientious citizens and human rights activists.
The killings started on May 2 after Pramila Rani Brahma of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), accused Muslims of not voting for the BPF in the ongoing elections. Initial investigations show that besides the Bodo militant groups, members of BPF were involved in the massacre. Moreover, the brutal police crackdown at Harbhanga polling booth shows that Assamese Muslims cannot expect security even from law enforcement, as the elections have turned them into easy targets.
“The mass killing of Assamese Muslims is the bitter harvest of the usual divisive politics espoused by Hindutva supremacists,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “It represents a brutal attempt to alter the electoral demographics of Assam, through violence, intimidation and mass displacement, ” added Mr. Khan.
IAMC has called for the seizure of all illegal arms and ammunition from the BTAD area, as a necessary first step towards ending the ethnic cleansing. The organization has also demanded an immediate enquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge, into the killings, as well as the suspension of police personnel accused of participating in the violence. Pramila Rani Brahma’s inciteful statements represent a flagrant violation of the code of conduct for candidates. The fact that these have not yet invited any censure from the Election Commission is a matter of grave concern.
In order to restore confidence in the populace and uphold the rule of law, IAMC has further demanded the deployment of additional paramilitary forces and immediate relief and rehabilitation to the survivors.
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: http://www.iamc.com
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