Bodo council says rehab wonít be easy or quick
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Even though Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has promised that displaced members of both Muslim and Bodo communities would be able to return home within seven days, officials of the Bodoland Tribal Council (BTC) are sceptical. Nearly 300,00 people are now homeless after their dwellings were burnt down in week-long rioting in the violence-hit districts of Assam.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is coming to Kokrajhar on Saturday, is expected to visit some of the relief camps close to the town.
BTC Deputy Chief Executive Khampa Borgoyari said they had already approached the displaced communities over returning home. However, neither Bodos nor Muslims, he said, were willing to allow those who had left to return home to their respective areas. "The feedback from both the communities was that if we allow the people evicted from their houses to return, it will be only a matter of time before the same animosity builds up, leading to fresh flare-ups," Borgoyari said.
While the displaced Muslims from Kokrajhar, for example, have crossed over to Dhubri, Bodos settled in Dhubri have taken shelter in Kokrajhar.
Borgoyari puts the number of displaced in the two districts at 50,000 for Bodos and over 150,000 for Muslims.
The council, he said, wasn't in favour of any hasty rehabilitation either as there were not enough forces to provide security cover. On the contrary, it is considering the possibility of a "population transfer" ó with displaced Bodos being resettled in Kokrajhar and displaced Muslims in Dhubri.
Top Bodo leaders have taken offence to a statement by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, the Dhubri MP, who claimed that Bodos constituted just 27 per cent of the BTC population, with non-Bodos making up the rest. He said this justifying the demand for dissolution of the BTC in recent times by Muslim organisations.
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