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ACHR asks PM to reject NCM's report on Assam riots
AHRC said that NCM's 'inflammatory statements contributed to the vulnerability of the North Eastern people and the feeling among them was that NCM is not for their protection even if majority of them are Christians and had nothing to with the riots in Assam'.

ASIAN CENTRE for Human Rights (ACHR) has demanded the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to reject the report of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) report on Assam riots. A team of NCM consisting of Planning Commission Member, Dr. Syeda Hameed, Advisor Dr. G. B Panda, and Member of NCM, Keki N. Daruwalla to the riot affected areas of Assam, had submitted the report titled, “Report on Visit to Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) and Dhubri District in Assam”

The ACHR lamented that the NCM has violated its mandate. As per the National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992, the NCM’s mandate is the protection of religious minorities notified by the Government of India. However, the NCM ignored the fact that at least 15% of the Bodos are Christians while about 50% of the Bodos follow their own religion, “Bathou” and therefore fall under the definition of “minorities” under the NCM Act.

However, the NCM effectively reduced the riots in Assam to “Bodos” Vs “Muslims” wherein Muslims have been defined as “minorities”, therefore, falling within the mandate of the NCM and the Bodos have been defined as a majority in clear violation of the NCM Act. The NCM Act does not include “ethnic minorities”. If the NCM has extrapolated “ethnic minorities”, it failed to indentify them and it must be noted that in the BTAD every community has the feeling of being a minority.

ACHR felt that this argument is not mere semantic but raises fundamental questions about enjoyment of the rights recognized under law and the way an institution such as the NCM supposed to function.

ACHR deplored that the NCM’s report is biased and contains inflammatory contents that can radicalize some sections of the mis-guided Muslims while increasing the risk of the people with Tibeto-Mongoloid features, mainly from the North East, in mainland India though they have nothing to do with the riots in Assam. As over 6,000 people from the North East India assembled at Bangalore Railway station on 15 August 2012, the NCM released its report which stated that “the conflict was unequal as the Bodos were killing Muslims with AK 47s and there is impending fear of militant Jihadis supplying arms to Assam”.

AHRC said that these inflammatory statements contributed to the vulnerability of the North Eastern people and the feeling among them that NCM is not for their protection even if majority of them are Christians and had nothing to with the riots in Assam. These statements were made when the authorities, press and human rights groups were exercising maximum restraints not to publish the names of the victims or community wise displaced persons in order to prevent further escalation of violence.

ACHR also pointed out that the NCM team visited only one Bodo camp i.e. Vidyapeeth High School at Kokrajhar town while it visited six Muslim relief camps. The Vidyapeeth High School is in the heart of Kokrajhar town, the headquarters of the BTAD and therefore, its condition is better than other Bodo relief camps and therefore, the inferences drawn by the NCM are inaccurate.

It observed that the NCM also failed to ensure impartiality at a time when it is clear that both the Bodos and Muslims are scared to return to their respective villages surrounded by the other community. Despite this reality, the NCM concluded that in the case of the Muslims abandoning their villages and their houses being looted and gutted, there is a “design to see that they do not return to their own villages”, while with respect to the Bodos houses, the NCM stated that “in most cases (Bodos) had their houses looted and gutted”, suggesting that the Bodos did themselves.

Finally, there is a clamour growing demanding the visit of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) that is mandated to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes including the Bodos.

Asian Centre for Human Rights believes that if the NCST were to visit the areas and make a recommendation to safeguard the tribal land rights through implementation of the provisions of the 6th Schedule to the Constitution and the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886 which prohibit transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals, though legally tenable, will not help to contribute to the reconciliation process which is indispensable at this moment.

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