Poll Violence in Assam

published on February 14, 2013

The Failure of the Assam Government to assess the sentiments of the people resulted in thedeterioration of the situation in the Rabha Hasong are and according to official records alone, 15 persons lost their lives in Panchayat poll related violence during the last phase of the election on February 12, while, a number of others were injured and private and public properties were damaged. The State Government must accept the blame for the deterioration of the situation as it decided to go ahead with the Panchayat polls in the area despite strong opposition from different organizations representing the Rabha Community. The organization were opposing the holding of the polls in the area as they were of the view that it would result in overlapping of the powers between the Panchayats and the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. The Rabha bodies were also demanding holding of the polls to the Council, which were not held till date though the Council was formed way back in the early 1990s. on the other hand, some non-Rabha organizations were demanding holding of the Panchayat polls and the Government should have tried to bring consensus between those supporting the polls and those opposing the same instead of imposing the elections. But that was not done and the Government decided to go ahead with the polls despite strong opposition from the Rabha bodies, which resulted in widespread violence and reminded the people of Assam of the 1983 general election, which was imposed on the people of the state against their wishes.
In fact, trouble broke out in the Rabha Hasong area immediately after the declaration of the election dates and no one filed nomination in a large number of seats, while the candidates faced stiff resistance from the organizations opposing the polls. Following the outbreak of violence, the Government should have reconsidered its decision of going ahead with the polls and on its part, the Assam State Election Commission should have also taken an independent decision of merely following the Government’s decision. But both the State Government and the State Election Commission went ahead with the polls without properly assessing the ground situation and the result was there for all to see. The State Government, which suspended the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) after acts of violence by one particular organization in Barpeta, went ahead with the Panchayat polls in Rabha Hasong area despite stiff resistance from the Rabha community. This is very unfortunate and now efforts should be made to restore normalcy in the area as soon as possible and all the political parties and organizations of the state should play their part for restoration of normalcy in the area. Assam faced serious ethnic tension in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council (BTAD) are and such an unfortunate situation should not be allowed to develop in the Rabha Hasong area.

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