Assam failed to prevent killings:
Need for a State commission on internally displaced
persons and community recovery
Guwahati Press Club, 1 pm: Releasing
its 23 page report, Ethnic cleansing and internal displacement in
Karbi Anglong and NC Hills: Lessons Not Learnt by Assam, Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre
for Human Rights who has been returning after field visit to Karbi
Anglong including Dhansiri stated that “The pattern and organised
nature of the killings that started following the murder of 3 Dimasa
auto-drivers on 26 September 2005 establish beyond any reasonable
doubt the involvement of the organised armed opposition groups,
the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) and
the United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). Repeated denials
and hacking the victims to death, instead of using fire-arms to
avoid violations of cease-fire ground rules with the government
of India and State government of Assam, do not exonerate the DHD
and UPDS from the charges of involvement in the killings. Rather
such barbaric killings – slaughtering innocent civilians like animals
- violate basic principles of international humanitarian law standards.”
“The killings, which were initially perpetrated
by the armed opposition groups, have spread to the community level. There have also been stray
incidents of arson of abandoned houses in Diphu town at the time
of my visit and unless the administration takes action, it will
escalate further.” – stated Mr Chakma.
Both the state government of Assam and the
Central government of India failed to protect innocent lives and
stop the orgy of killings because of their failure to (1) enforce
respect for the cease-fire ground rules by the DHD and the UPDS,
(2) dispatch and deploy adequate security forces to bring the situation
under control and (3) initiate prompt inquiry by Justice P K Phukan
to identify the culprits and stop recurrence of such killings.
Justice Phukan led Commission of Inquiry was ordered
on 10 October 2005 but as of now, neither the terms of reference
has been announced nor has he visited Karbi Anglong. “Is
the State government waiting destruction of all the evidence before
the visit or is the death of 90 persons not enough to warrant a
visit?” asked Mr Chakma.
The conditions of 44,016 displaced people are
deplorable and inmates have been housed like chickens in a coop.
If it rains, there is not enough space to stand up and majority
have to sleep in the open. There is rice and dal but no firewood
to prepare food. Nor have they been given any vegetable or cash
Sanitation and hygiene is a serious problem.
In Karbi Anglong, 32,871 inmates have been provided only 8,504 plates.
It means four persons have to share a plate. “This is highly inadequate.
Even each convicted prisoner is given a plate and glass” – stated
Out of the 44,071 inmates, 17,971 or overwhelming
40.78% are listed as minors. A large number of them are babies and
infants. Yet, there is no baby food.
The state government has provided 6,964 blankets
for 44,071 internally displaced persons. The government provided
only 5,000 Dhuti Punjabis for 13,503 adult males; 4,999 shawls
for 12,452 adult women; and 12,080 frocks, pants and shirts for
17,971 boys and girls. Majority of the camp inmates do not have
clothes to change their dress. With winter approaching, there is
a need for more blankets as well as warm clothes.
There are no special medical facilities for
pregnant women. The government has failed to take preventive measures
against the spread of malaria. An estimated 1,170 families have
not been provided mosquito nets as on 3 November 2005. Most families
have more than five members and one mosquito net is inadequate.
All the schools and colleges remain closed
in Karbi Anglong and about 20,000 students of the district have
been affected because of the closure of the schools. Out of 53 camps
in Karbi Anglong, 32 are schools. The government has not taken any
measure to vacate the schools by building proper accommodation for
the displaced persons.
“Not a single relative of the victims has received
compensation of Rs 3,00,000 nor any student received free books
as announced by the Chief Minister. If
the Chief Minister cannot keep his words, it erodes faith
in the administration and system which has serious repercussions”
– stated Mr Chakma.
Assam has failed to learn the lessons from
the recent conflicts in Karbi Anglong and how to assist with internally
displaced persons despite having IDPs since 1993. Among others,
Asian Centre for Human Rights recommended (1) strict enforcement of respect for cease-fire
agreement with DHD and UPDS, (2) formation of Assam State Commission
on Internally Displaced Persons and Community Recovery” for a trial
period of at least five years to monitor developments in conflict
areas for early warning, address security concerns and facilitate
the granting of safe access to internally displaced persons by humanitarian
workers, monitor measures taken to ensure recovery of the community
and take community confidence building measures, (3) a central package
for rehabilitation of the displaced Karbis and Dimasas to enable them to stand on their
feet by providing for construction of houses, compensation for properties
lost/damaged and at least six months free rations to enable them
to start cultivation; (4) security and protection for the displaced
persons and humanitarian assistance in the camps at par with the
Kashmiri pandits” and (5) prompt start of the Commission of Inquiry
by Justice Phukan irrespective of an inquiry by the Central Bureau