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Monday, June 09, 2014


Assam Violence: Concerned Citizens Group appealed to uphold the composite fabric of Indian Society


"In the wake of the violence in Assam and its repercussions outside the North East region of India, a group of concerned citizens from Assam and other parts of North East India have appealed people and the government to restore peace, uphold the composite social fabric of the country and delivery of justice to the affected people expeditiously."


HNF Correspondent


Terming that the disturbances in Assam and incidents in other parts of India as its repercussion have been fatal to the composite social fabric of the North East and the whole of India, Academicians, Activists and noted citizens including Prof. A C Bhagabati (Former Vice-chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University), Niketu Iralu (Peace Activist, Kohima), Dr. Monisha Behal (Chairperson, North East Network, Guwahati) and others have appealed to uphold peace and protect the composite fabric of Indian Society.

The appeal was made after a visit by the group of concerned citizens on a peace and solidarity mission to the trouble torn areas of the Western Assam with the objective of assessing the situation, meeting the inmates of both the communities in the relief camps, ascertaining specific vulnerabilities which need urgent attention and promoting peace and solidarity among the strife torn people.


‘We visited a few relief camps in the affected districts of Dhubri, Bongaingaon and Kokrajhar on August 7-8, 2012. We also met with members of the civil society organizations and officials of the administration’, said the appeal made by the members of the group.

‘The violence took place essentially between two communities living side by side, both attempting to preserve their right to life with dignity’ said the appeal while placing the observation of the group of persons about the situation in the relief camps as, ‘Most of the camps are in schools and thereby have the basic infrastructures of water supply and power. However, sanitation facilities were found inadequate and in need for improvement.  Personnel of the health department were in place in the camps. There are reports by civil society groups that only basic medicines are available and that ability to deal with illnesses of children and gynecological problems are inadequate. The team did not notice any day care for children or trauma counseling facilities for the affected people in the camps. Facilities for the continuing and un-interrupted education of children have not been considered’. However, the appeal attempted to clarify further saying that, ‘The above are only illustrative and there are many serious gaps which need to be addressed like nutritional balance, larger accommodation and bathing space etc.’

Pointing at the administrative callousness and apathy, the group said that, ‘The affected people of both the communities apprehended violence and approached the administration for security. But they had to flee from their homes as their pleas were not heeded by the administration. In most of the instances the people fled first and their houses were burnt later. In short, absence of effective policing and patrolling and inefficient response to pleas for help remained the singularly important factor for this exodus, apart from rumors and threats.’

Foreseeing more trouble in the coming days in justice delivery, the members expressed their apprehension saying that, ‘Moreover, the complaints and FIRs, that are lodged seem to be collective and are lodged by the police themselves. But, such omnibus FIRs will become a subsequent hurdle in delivery of justice. This is in context of specific entitlements of individuals either to establish ownership or to recover insurance money and/or to become specific naming persons who are responsible for such criminal acts.’ The team in its appeal recommended filing of the individual FIR by the victims for easy delivery of compensation and justice. The appeal also pointed at certain issues saying, ‘The number of FIRs is awfully small, in comparison to number of people injured and killed in the violence. All major cases of murder, arson and looting must show appropriate arrests with sections which are non- bailable after the initial investigation.’

While the group reposed its faith on some initiatives of the government saying that ‘Compensation package declared can be an important instrument in bringing sense of security and peace building among the affected people’, it insisted upon fair and speedy assessment of losses and damages for effective implementation of the packages declared. ‘Compensation to families whose members died and persons who suffered severe injuries should be ensured within the time frame of two months, so that affected families are not reduced to destitution and compelled to enter into a permanent debt cycle’, suggested the group of concerned citizens in their appeal urging that ‘The assessment process should be transparent and need to be in sync with the individual FIR or the complaint registered.’

Hinting upon certain loopholes in the package, the appeal said that, ‘The declared compensation package is totally silent on rehabilitation of the people, who are being forced into a situation such as death of income earner or injury, thus taking them away from their livelihood.’ ‘A rehabilitation plan, indicating urgency with a time frame should be expedited along with a peace-building process initiated with the help of civil society’, the group demanded in its appeal while citing at Supreme Court guidelines on Dantewada case and NHRC guidelines on relief and rehabilitation as a model to be followed while taking measures to bring the situation to normalcy and ensure rehabilitation and justice.

The group also urged upon the government to bring about a policy on internal displacement taking into account the nature of conflict in our country. ‘In the absence of a national law on Displacement, the state governments should adhere to international standards set out in ‘Guiding principles on Internally Displaced Persons’ in planning and implementing rehabilitation packages and programmes’, said the appeal made by the group.

Explaining its observations of the situation, the group mentioned that ‘Instead of ebbing, the violence has spread to other places of Assam now. At the same time we have observed with great concern and pain that various sectarian organizations and groups are trying to fan the disturbance and tension to fulfill their nefarious designs. It holds dangerous portent for the secular and composite fabric of our society’, the group mentioned as its observation of the situation while recommending to extend adequate security for safety of life and property of people as enshrined in the Constitution of India saying that, ‘It is the responsibility of the government.’

In the wake of the repercussions of Assam violence outside the North east region, the group appealed to start dialogue between groups and communities with the help of civil society bodies and members to address the issues of concern. The appeal, made on August 18, 2012, was released by the group in Guwahati.


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