Of Homeland and Belonging

In July 2012, the state of Assam in India’s north-east witnessed ethnic riots between the indigenous Bodo tribals and migrant Bengali Muslims. About 100 people are believed to have been killed in the violence and 5,00,000 from both communities were displaced.

The Bodos, a plains tribe constituting 5.5% of Assam’s population, have long been demanding a separate state of Bodoland. In the 80’s and 90’s as many as four organizations took to the gun to fight for their demands. On the other hand, migration of Bengali Muslims to Assam has been going on since the days of British rule but reached its zenith during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 which led to the formation of Bangladesh. But it’s the spike in migration again during the recent years that caused much conflict between the two communities.

A series of events that occured in July 2012, beginning with Bodos gunning down two Muslim youth and Muslims retaliating by killing four Bodos, led to large-scale violence and displacement.

January 2013.