A war of words appears to have broken out between the Asian Centre for Human Rights and the National Commission for Minorities over the Assam riots issue, reports Vicky Nanjappa.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights has accused the National Commission of Minorities of being biased in its assessment of the Assam violence and has said that the report was tilted against the Bodos and had not respected the NCM Act.
Following this, the NCM wrote to the ACHR stating that they had not been unbiased in their report. It had also said that it did not go to Assam on the recommendation of any community, and also had studied the problems of both the Bodos and Muslims alike.
It also accused the ACHR of misquoting from the report, and said even Bodos have lost their houses and Assam has had a history of ethnic strife and the problems of both the groups were looked into with great detail and in an unbiased manner.
The ACHR, however, while replying to the letter, stated that it should clarify its position with respect to the status of the Bodos as religious minorities considering that a majority of the Bodos follow their animist 'Bathou' religion and Christianity.
An NCM team consisting of the member of the Planning Commission Dr Syeda Hameed, advisor to the Planning Commission Dr GB Panda, and NCM member Keki N Daruwalla visited Assam on August 11-12 and released the 'Report on Visit to Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts and Dhubri District in Assam'.
The ACHR in its report, 'National Commission for Minorities: Communalising Assam Riots?' had accused the report of being biased against the Bodos and not respecting the NCM Act.
On the inclusion of the Planning Commission member Sayeeda Hameed, the NCM stated that "the Planning Commission had a stake in the welfare of the camps and the means that could be deployed to bring relief to the victims".
While reiterating that ACHR had no objection to inclusion of any person, it stated that "the direct role of the Planning Commission to bring relief to the victims will raise questions of constitutionality given the federal nature of the country. It is the ministry of home affairs which funds to meet expenses for emergency situations, and also reimburses the costs for maintenance of all the refugees (mainly Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu) and internally displaced persons (Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura) to the concerned state governments."
"The assertion that the Planning Commission had a stake in the welfare of the camps and the means that could be deployed to bring relief to the victims is not convincing and begs answers," stated Suhas Chakma, director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
ACHR lamented that HT Sangliana, the member of the NCM from the north-east, was not included in the team that visited Assam and further stated that the NCM responded to the cover letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and not the report itself.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights will now release a report titled 'Assam Riots: Preventable but not prevented', which been prepared following three field visits by the ACHR researchers to the riot-affected areas of BTAD and Dhubri districts.
The report provides first hand and definitive sequence of events leading to the riots in contrast to the distortion of facts by a number of secular activists and the National Commission for Minorities, sources in ACHR said.