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Home > Communalism Repository > India: Mass violence and displacement of adivasis in Assam in December 2014 (...)

India: Mass violence and displacement of adivasis in Assam in December 2014 - A report by Wing-Assam and AAWAA

19 January 2015

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a fact finding report on mass killing and displacement of adivasis in assam in december 2014

2nd january to 6th january 2015
conducted by
WING-ASSAM AND AAWAA
tarajan kakoti gaon, jorhat, assam
MOBILE: +91-9864323337, +91-8011413942
E-MAIL: bondita12[at]gmail.com, sangeeta24547[at]rediffmail.com

The report

The massacre of 23rd December 2014 where numerous people were severely injured, killed, houses set on fire leading to the displacement of a large number of Adivasi people mainly Santhals from their settlements, inflicted terror on the entire state. Women in Governance (WinG)-Assam and All Adivasi Women Association of Assam (AAWAA) conducted a fact finding intervention from 2nd January to 6th January 2015 on the 23rd December and subsequent incidents where more than 80 Adivasis were brutally massacred by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland belonging to the Songbijit faction NDFB (s) in the districts of Sontipur,Chirang and Kokrajhar. The militants indiscriminately opened fired on the Adivasi villagers without giving them any chance to escape. A resident of 9No Phulbari of Bishwanath Chariali commented that the incident was a pre-planned act of the faction because they targeted only one particular community i.e. Santhals (Adivasis) especially those residing at the border areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. He said that they have been living in these villages for more than 45 years. These villages come under forest area, so they don’t have permanent land revenue certificate. This is the first time they were attacked and displaced from their villages.

The FF team was informed by the village people and Adivasi leaders in Kokrajhar district that there was prior information with Assam Police about this plan of killing Adivasis ahead of the incident, which was communicated to an Adivasi leader over phone to inform the people to stay safe rather than tightening up securities in those areas. The fact finding team found major lapses in the security arrangements in those areas while visiting the camps and affected villages.

WinG-Assam and AAWAA members visited Pakriguri (Serfanguri), Lungsung and Ultapani areas of Kokrajhar where the incident took place on 23rd December. The areas being very backward socially and geographically became the main target for attack where several innocents died and injured. In Serfanguri 5 persons were killed and 4 were injured, in Lungsung 8 were killed and 5 were injured and in Ultapani 12 were killed and 4 were severely injured. The Assam police administration also failed to take quick action to bring back the dead bodies. According to sources in Lungsung, the police from Bismari

Police Station reached the spot 20 hours after the incident. It was a total failure on the part of police administration to provide security to the Adivasi villagers.

Out of those killed in the firing, there were 26 women and 18 minor children in the three districts. There were approximately 8902, 72082, 19077 inhabitants staying in the relief camps in Sonitpur, Kokrajhar and Chirang districts respectively. For retaliation to this incident many houses of the Adivasis and Bodos were burnt leaving aside the houses of other communities like the Karbis and Nepales. Relief camps were set up in the affected districts and many people fled from their homes and stayed at the camps out of fear. If the past history of 1996, 1998, and 2010 is looked at, BTAD has a history of ethnic violence, bloodshed and killing. But despite this the government failed to take it as a lesson or made a road map to prevent such violence. The IDPs of 1996 and 1998 victims were in the relief camps till 2007 in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts and their names were enlisted in the voter list under the camps. Residents in the Saralpara camp told to the members of the FF team that they demanded a permanent security camp in Ultapani after 1996 and 1998 violence. The FF team witnessed that till 6th January 2015 no security provisions were made available in the affected areas.

In Hatijuli (Jungle Basti) and Shantipur area of Batashipur, Dhekiahuli 6 persons (3 men, 2 women and 1 nine year old girl) were brutally killed and two were injured. One house was set on fire. On 24th December 2014 mass rally of around 15000 people came out on the street of Dhekiajuli with the dead bodies in protest against the NDFB(S) for the killing and the police for their insensitive handling of the situation to bring back the dead bodies. The protesters were carrying bow and arrow, lathi etc. Police could have used the means of tear gas, lathis to control the agitated mob, but instead the Police opened fire on the mob, which resulted in death of 3 innocent protesters. The OC of Dhekiajuli PS told the FF team that the agitated protesters damaged public properties, properties of the police station, threw stones at the police, but apparently none of the police personnel got injured in the attack and the FF team did not notice any damage to the police station. Dhekiajuli police registered a case no 739/14 /u/s 147/148/149/353/307/336/325/427 IPC R/W Section 4 P.D.P.P Act against the violent mob but no case is being filed against the police till the date of visit for the killing of 3 innocent protesters by police.

WinG and AAWAA members visited many camps and observed the situation of the people staying there. It was observed that most of the camps were either in open fields or in school buildings. In Deosiri area, one relief camp which was earlier in a school was shifted to an open field whereas the police camp was still there in the school. It was observed that police were occupying some of the classrooms when classes were going on. In the Bodo camp at Dakhin Simla Bagan in Chirang district, a woman resident shared that Bodo and Adivasi communities have been living together for many years in their village, there is inter-community marriages, and they really don’t know the reason of the recent attacks. In Ultapani camp in Kokrajhar, one Bodo woman told that when they heard the sound of bullets they were running here and there as they might also get killed by the insurgents.
Another woman told that they were staying in the camp due to fear of elephant as no one is there in the village. The fact finding team saw that the inhabitants of the camps of Biswanath Chariali area wanted to return to their homes but they were afraid of going back due to the feeling of insecurity as no sufficient security was provided in the affected villages. They were worried about their land, houses, crops, paddy, cattle, poultry which was left abandoned in the village. They said that the Sonajuli security camp was not sufficient enough to provide security to the inhabitants and their property. The FF team members while walking towards 9 no and 10 no Lakhipur lane of Phulbari, the place of occurrence, which is around 15 kms away from Tinisuthi camp, could feel the sense of insecurity because on the whole way no police, security personnel were seen by the team.

There was no sign of security arrangement in both the places on 2nd and 3rd January 2015.

An incident of Samukjuli Church gate camp in Bishwanath Chariali caught the eyes of FF team where a 9 months pregnant lady delivered a baby in an open tent at night on 2nd January. Prior to the delivery she was checked by the visiting doctor in the day time, but the doctor did not advise to shift her to the civil hospital. Her delivery was conducted by other elderly ladies in the camp. After delivery only the ASHA worker came and then she was shifted to the civil hospital. Next day on 3rd January when FF team visited the camp, the on-duty doctor present in the camp was not aware of the delivery. The doctor came to know about the delivery from the members of FF team. It was noticed that the Adivasi camps were overcrowded and people were living in a very unhygienic condition. It was also observed that health facilities were available in the camps nearer to the town.

WinG and AAWAA members observed that no lady police officer was stationed in any of the relief camps when most of the inhabitants were women, girls and children. The security issue was questionable in these camps. Most of the camps had no electricity and insufficient security personnel, many of the inhabitants shared their feeling of insecurity to the team members.

After visiting many camps it was found that there was no proper monitoring over the distribution of government relief. In-charge personnel of camps like Shantipur, Deosiri said that on 5th of January 2015, government relief viz. rice, pulses and other food stuffs were distributed only once on 28th Dec’14. Moreover sources revealed that District In-charge of Chirang asked the displaced people to return to their homes. The district in-charge promised to provide them relief if they return to their homes. But the provisions of security in the affected areas were almost negligible that led to fear in the minds of the people to go back to their homes.

The condition of the affected Bodo people in Namora relief camp situated in a river bank in the border of Assam and Arunachal was very pathetic. There were no proper sanitation, water and health provision. Government even did not supply sufficient Tarpaulin sheet for which people had to improvise with their clothes as shelter over their heads.

In Bishwanath Chariali, the FF team found that an assessment of the burnt houses was conducted by the district administration whereas in other areas in Dhekiajuli, Kokrajhar and Chirang no such process was started.

The recent attack by the NDFB(S) is a big blow to the security of the state. It has clearly indicated that the government has no policy to prevent conflict. The security of the life of people especially women and children are at stake in the state.

WinG –Assam and AAWAA visiting Balidanga and No.9 Phulbari observed that the people had lost their 10-20 bighas of food grains which were either burnt out in the open yard and also in the paddy fields, or getting destroyed by the cattle. In many houses, their belongings were also burnt and destroyed. People were not able to go back to their homes to husk the paddy due to fear. There were reports from the villagers about their missing livestock. The people in the affected area would face food insecurity in the coming days as their crops were either burnt or destroyed. Similar situation was found in Chirang and Kokrajhar districts as well.

Our Recommendations
1. Immediate provision of Security by government in the affected areas so that people feel safe to stay in their houses.
2. Sufficient security in Camps. Women police should be appointed in the camps.
3. Immediate provision of power to the areas and relief camps.
4. Immediate compensation to the families of those who died and injured
in extrajudicial firing by NDFB (s) and police.
5. Government should develop a proper rehabilitation policy and
immediate step for resettlement of the conflict affected people.
6. Immediate step should be taken to disarm the surrendered/non surrendered militants and put a ban on the supply of small and illegal
arms for their self protection.
7. Proper dialogue with all parties in the armed conflict to address and
resolve the root cause of conflict for sustainable peace in the state by ensuring participation of women in conflict prevention and post conflict reconstruction process.

DOWNLOAD AND READ THE ORIGINAL FORMATTED REPORT WITH PHOTOs:

A FACT FINDING REPORT ON MASS KILLING AND DISPLACEMENT OF ADIVASIS IN ASSAM IN DECEMBER 2014
2 - 6 January 2015 conducted by Wing-Assam and AAWAA