Repoll uncertain in riot zone

Guwahati/Kokrajhar, Feb. 13: Different organisations representing tribal communities of the state were up in arms against the Assam government, holding it "solely responsible" for yesterday's panchayat poll violence in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) area.

They have also called a 12-hour statewide bandh on Saturday to protest against the death of 19 people in the violence.

Echoing these organisations, the All Rabha Students' Union (Arsu) also accused the Congress-led government in Dispur of hatching a conspiracy to create a communal divide among the people staying in the council area.

Different tribal organisations, including the All Bodo Students' Union (Absu), All Assam Tribal Youth League, Takam Mising Porin Kebang, Mising Memang Kebang, (MMK), All Assam Sonowal Kachari Students' Union, All Tiwa Students' Union, Karbi Students' Union, among others, under the aegis of the All Assam Tribal Sangha have jointly called the bandh which will begin at 5am on February 16.

The general secretary of the All Assam Tribal Sangha, Aditya Khaklary, told reporters here today that chief minister Tarun Gogoi and his government's anti-tribal policies had led to yesterday's unfortunate incident that claimed 19 lives.

"This situation could have been easily avoided if the state government and the state election commission had not forcibly imposed the panchayat polls on the indigenous people living in the RHAC area without holding elections to the autonomous council," Khaklary said.

He rued that the even after constitution of the council in 1995 encompassing Goalpara district and some parts of Kamrup district, the state government is yet to hold the first election to the autonomous council.

"The 17-year delay in holding elections to the RHAC shows the Tarun Gogoi government's discriminatory and indifferent attitude towards the tribal communities of the state," Khaklary said.

Khaklary said they had also resolved to launch a joint agitation to protest against the state government's anti-tribal policies. "We are also holding a protest meeting at Lakhidhar Bora Kshetra near Digholipukhuri on February 20 on the RHAC violence," he said. The president of the MMK, Ranoj Pegu, said that they would decide their future course of action only after holding discussions with leaders of the Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Forum.

While talking to reporters in Kokrajhar today, Arsu district president Rwtin Lokobok said: "If atrocities against the indigenous communities do not stop we would be forced to launch a massive agitation paralysing the entire Northeast."

"Instead of listening to the voices of the tribal people, the government is hatching a conspiracy to create communal violence among the people in the area. Instead of controlling the situation, the state government aggravated it further by creating communal tension in the area," he alleged.

"We caution the state government to stop atrocities against the indigenous communities. The government must learn to respect the sentiments of the indigenous tribal people," Lokobok said.

Arsu also sought help and cooperation of all tribal organisations and leaders of the state.

"We believe that the indigenous tribal people will join our movement against the government atrocities against the tribal communities of the state," the Arsu leader said.

When contacted, Arsu president Tonkeswar Rabha demanded deployment of army in the communally-sensitive areas of the council.

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