Ultra-leftists and Islamists, suspected to be working in tandem, instigated the Bangladesh-origin Muslim encroachers on government and temple land at Dholpur in Assam’s Darrang district to revolt and resist the eviction drive by the district administration.
The violent resistance put up by the encroachers, who were also instigated to launch attacks on police and district administration officers, forced the police to open fire. Two of the Bangladesh-origin Muslim encroachers died and nearly a dozen policemen were injured, two of them critically.
Two persons--a sitting and a former pradhan of local gram panchayats--were Monday (September 27) for instigating the encroachers. The two--Mohammad Chand Mahmum (panchayat pradhan of Dholpur 3) and Mohammad Asmet Ali Ahmed (pradhan of Kirakara)--were charged with criminal conspiracy, rioting and attacking public servants.
Assam Police say more arrests will follow. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said six people, including a college lecturer, have been identified for instigating the encroachers.
Chief minister Sarma also that some ‘outsiders’ had collected Rs 28 lakh from the encroachers as ‘protection money’ over the last three months. These people had assured the encroachers that they had convinced the government against carrying out any eviction drive. “The people (who collected the money) told the encroachers that they would pay off government officials and some politicians and, in return, they would not be evicted from the lands they had encroached upon,” a senior police officer told Swarajya.
The Assam chief minister has named the Islamist (PFI), which is suspected to have close links with Islamic terror groups and is accused of executing hate crimes in India, as one of the organisations that has been active among Bangladesh-origin Muslims of the area. “The PFI has been working surreptitiously among Bangladesh-origin Muslims who have entered Assam illegally over the decades. These infiltrators suffer from a deep sense of insecurity and organisations like the PFI and Islamic radicals prey on their insecurities,” explained the police officer.
These Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators, say state intelligence officers, are in the grip of hardline clerics who have radicalised them. “Most of these infiltrators are very radical and have no allegiance towards India. They have been brainwashed into believing that an Islamic emirate is round the corner. They look on Hindus as kafirs (infidels) and India as a land of kafirs that has to be cleansed and made Islamic and pure. Thus, it is very easy to instigate them against state authorities,” said an Assam Police Special Branch (SB) officer.
The ultra-leftists, who also have no love for the Indian state and whose extra-territorial loyalties are well known, also find these radicalised Islamist infiltrators handy tools to further their seditious agenda. That is why the ultra-leftists have become active in the areas of Assam dominated by Bangladesh-origin Muslims. However, knowing fully well that their communist ideology will not find any takers amongst the Islamists, they have been playing second fiddle to Islamist groups like the PFI. “The motive of the ultra-leftists is to have a disruptive force of anti-Indians who can create social disturbances and, at an opportune time, revolt against the Indian state,” said the SB officer.
A handful of activists of a new political outfit in the state that is known to have links with left radicals are suspected to have been active in provoking the Muslim encroachers in Darrang. The state police have now mounted a vigil on them.
PFI activists and other Islamist radicals, say SB officers, have been working among the Bangladesh-origin infiltrators for quite some time. “They (the PFI activists) have not been working under the PFI banner since they did not want to arouse suspicion. They have been working surreptitiously under the radar,” the SB officer said.
As chief minister Sarma pointed out, hundreds of families of encroachers were evicted from the village in Darrang on Monday and Tuesday (September 20 and 21) and the evictions were peaceful. “The eviction drive wasn’t sudden and the encroachers were given adequate notice. They assured the district authorities that they would cooperate with the drive. We had taken opposition parties like the Congress and the AIUDF on board. The AIUDF and functionaries of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AMSU) had, in fact, said they would help the eviction drive,” said Sarma.
On Thursday (September 23), only 60 families were to have been evicted. “After hundreds of families were evicted on Monday, how come there was sudden resistance on Thursday and the situation turned violent? Who provoked the encroachers to resist and attack the police?” asked the chief minister.
The money collected from the encroachers was a factor. “The people who collected the money told the encroachers they had paid off politicians and district officials. The encroachers were incensed that they were being evicted despite having paid protection money. It was thus easy to instigate them against the police,” said the SB officer.
“The encroachers were assured by the Islamists and left radicals that the police would not retaliate if they attacked the police. They (the encroachers) were also assured that the Islamist-Leftist combine would protect them,” the officer added. Evidence of this was the manner in which a frenzied encroacher armed with a chopper chased armed policemen and a photographer hired by the district administration to record the eviction drive.
“He ran into a few more armed police who shouted at him to stop and had their guns pointed at him. Any normal person would have stopped in his tracks, but this person continued to charge towards the armed policemen with his chopper, leaving the police with no option but to open fire at point blank range,” said another senior police officer.
The violence in Darrang has, say police officers, exposed the Leftist-Islamist links. That has left the SB worried.
“The Islamists and also the left radicals have strong links with foreign entities and this has grave security implications for Assam and the entire region. The Northeast, and North Bengal which serves as this region’s link with the rest of the country, is very vulnerable. The Islamists and the leftists have a common agenda and that is why they are hand-in-glove inciting passions in Assam and turning the Bangladesh-origin Muslim infiltrators against the Indian state,” said an Intelligence Bureau officer.
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