BTC smells conspiracy

Kokrajhar, Nov. 18: Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) leaders today said they "smelt" the involvement of secret killers in the fresh spate of violence in Kokrajhar district, while asserting that the arrest of the council's executive member, Mono Kumar Brahma, was part of a greater conspiracy.

Talking to The Telegraph over phone from Chirang's Kajalgaon, where the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) held an emergent meeting today to discuss the recent developments, BTC deputy chief Kampha Borgoyary said, "We smell secret killings under way in Bodo region. At a time when the situation is so tense and critical, why has the security detail around BTC leaders been withdrawn?"

He said they would move high court for protection and also challenge Brahma's arrest.

Expressing dissatisfaction regarding the developments in the last few days, Borgoyary said law and order was a state subject and it was the state government's responsibility to safeguard its people. He said the government was trying to cover up its failure to do so by inciting fresh violence in the BTAD.

"Bodos were never protected by the Assam government. The withdrawal of police protection is a futile act; it cannot cripple us. We don't need the compassion of Assam to live on; we Bodos know how to protect ourselves. The indigenous people, including the Bodos, are treated poorly. The Assam government can dare to dismiss the BTC authority but will not be able to finish the Bodos. Even if the government arrests 99 per cent of us, the remaining 1 per cent will continue the struggle for our rights," he said.

BTC chief and BPF president Hagrama Mohilary, Rajya Sabha MP and Assam transport and tourism minister Chandan Brahma among others, attended the meeting.

The meeting was convened to discuss the situation arising out of Brahma's arrest in Kokrajhar yesterday and the claim that two AK-47 rifles and ammunition were recovered from his house. Brahma's family, however, alleged that police had planted the weapons during the raid. Subsequently, the administration had withdrawn "excess" guards from BTC members' houses, leaving them with "only what is permitted under rules".

In Kokrajhar, the district administration held an all-party meeting at the deputy commissioner's conference hall that was attended by almost all the political parties and organisations. Lok Sabha MP Sansuma Kunggur Bwiswmuthiary and ex-minister Pramila Rani Brahma represented the BPF. Leaders of various parties and organisations raised questions on different issues, including proper rehabilitation and safety and security of the people.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Jayant Narlikar said some organisations had some questions, which were clarified.

On law and order, he said, "We have initiated strong mea-sures as we do not want a July-like situation anymore."

BTAD inspector-general of police G.P. Singh said though there was tension in various places, the situation was und-er control. He said the problem was complicated and wou-ld take some time to resolve.

Union minister of state for tribal affairs Ranee Narah today echoed chief minister Tarun Gogoi, saying a "third force" was suspected to be behind the violence in BTAD. "The reason I am saying so is because tribal people are usually peace-loving. A third force may be at work to disrupt peace and harmony in the state," she said in Guwahati.

"I am confident that the chief minister will shortly id-entify those responsible for the violence and take stern action against them," Ranee said, while refusing to comme-nt on whether the "third for-ce" was political or apolitical.