India seeks neighbours’ help to hunt down Assam rebels

Assam, Rebels, India, Bololand, China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan,
Violence-affected Indian tribal Adivasi villagers prepare food at a relief camp at Gossaigaon, in the Kokrajhar district of northeastern Assam state on December 26, 2014. – AFP

GAUHATI: India urged Bhutan and other neighbours on Friday to help track down separatist rebels who killed 69 villagers in Assam as it stepped up its military offensive in the restive northeastern state.

India has already deployed 6,000 additional security forces and military helicopters to scour the remote area where armed militants mounted a series of coordinated attacks on tribal villagers on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj sought Bhutan’s help to trace the militants amid indications that some of them may have fled to neighbouring countries.

“The minister did take it up with the Bhutanese leadership to seek their support in what we see as a national endeavour to tackle the scourge that is creating a problem there,” ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters in New Delhi.

Swaraj was “assured of support” from Bhutan and is also “working on trying to contact other friendly countries in this context”, he added.

India’s northeastern region borders China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, and Nepal, and rebels are believed to often criss-cross the thickly forested, mountainous boundaries.

Police have blamed the recent attacks on the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has waged a violent decades-long campaign for an independent homeland for indigenous Bodo people.

Assam, which borders Bhutan and Bangladesh, has a long history of often violent land disputes between the Bodo people, Muslim settlers and rival tribes.

“We are definitely going to intensify operations,” army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag told reporters after meeting the home minister, Rajnath Singh, to discuss the security situation in Assam. There have been reports of tribal groups armed with machetes and bows and arrows setting fire to houses and shops in Bodo-dominated areas in retaliation for the attacks, in which 18 children were killed.

Another three people were killed on Wednesday when police shot at a mob demanding justice over the attacks at a police station. Around 7,000 people have fled their homes in the wake of the violence, many seeking refuge in makeshift camps set up by the government.


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    Guwahati: Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) reiterates its stand
    to detect all immigrants from the then East Pakistan and later
    Bangladesh with the national cut-off year (1951) and urges the Union
    government in New Delhi to think about offering work permits (without
    voting rights) to them in case their deportation becomes impossible
    because of serious humanitarian & international crisis.
    The forum in a statement also appealed to Sarbananda Sonowal led
    government at Dispur to support 1951 as cut-off year for detection of
    foreigners in the Supreme Court of India, as the case is presently in
    its jurisdiction. Considering the spirit of Assam Movement (1979 to
    1985) to deport all foreigners with 1951 base year, for which over 850
    martyrs-Khargeswar Talukder being the first, sacrificed their lives,
    the PPFA found reasons to support the same.
    The forum pointed out that the immigrants who entered India after 1951
    till 16 December 1971 should be treated as East Pakistani nationals,
    as Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign nation only after 16 December
    (not 25 March 1971 as often reported in Indian media outlets)
    following the surrender of Pakistani forces under the leadership of
    AAK Niazi to the Muktijoddhas (forces of Bangladesh freedom struggle).
    Arguing strongly to deport the immigrants from Bangladesh, who came
    after 16 December 1971, the forum urged the Union government to start
    diplomatic exercises with the Bangladesh government in Dhaka. It also
    expressed hope that a friendly regime in Dhaka would respond to New
    Delhi’s worries positively and timely.
    In another aspect, the forum commented that once the citizenship
    amendment bills are duly passed in the Parliament, all the Hindu,
    Buddhist, Sikh, Christian refugees should be rehabilitated with equal
    distribution across the country. Among them, those who prefer to stay
    legally in Assam should adopt the Assamese language as their medium of
    instructions, asserted the statement.
    “Adopting the Assamese language as the medium of instruction by those
    settlers would help in promoting the Assamese culture and thus
    contributing for a stronger and safer India. It will also help
    removing the linguistic threat perception to the indigenous populace
    of the State,” opined the statement endorsed by Rupam Barua, Nava
    Thakuria, Pramod Kalita, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Anup Sarma, Ujjal
    Saikia, Anirban Choudhury, Tarali Chakrabarty, Bhaswati Sarma,
    Bidhayak Das, Kishour Giri, Dhiraj Goswami, Sabyasachi Sharma, Mridul
    Kumar Chakrabarty, Prarthana Hazarika, Sewali Kalita etc.

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