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BTC council to rehabilitate Assam’s ethnic riot-displaced Santhals, Bodos and Muslims

GUWAHATI: The autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) administration has decided to rehabilitate thousands of Santhals, Bodos, and Bengali-speaking Muslims who have been displaced from their villages due to ethnic riots and terrorism since 1996, said BTC chief Pramod Bodo.

Riots erupted in Bodoland in 1996, 2008, and 2012.

Since 1996, over 2.5 lakh people have been displaced by separate Bodo-Santhal conflicts and militant violence in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), which includes the four western districts of Chirang, Baksa, Udalguri, and Kokrajhar.

Bodo said, “Within the next three months, the BTC plans to return displaced Bodos, Santhals, and others to their villages. Some of the displaced people had been housed in relief camps for the past 25 years, while others had relocated.”

The BTC administration will assist in the rehabilitation of their homes by utilising schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

The houses were either set on fire during the riot or destroyed over the course of the last 25 years.

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“Not all of these people’s homes were destroyed. Basically, they haven’t returned home in years due to security concerns. We’ve decided to establish police outposts in the villages,” Bodo added.

The Santhals were also affected in December 2014, when militants from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) carried out a series of violent attacks in and around BTR, killing approximately 76 people.

Between 2008 and 2012, ethnic violence erupted between the Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims, killing over 100 people and displacing thousands from their homes and villages.

Extremists from the NDFB were also involved in the violence.

The BTC chief also stated that the NDFB militants who surrendered are being rehabilitated.

“The Assam government will contribute Rs 160 crore to the rehabilitation of NDFB cadres,” he said.

Over 1,600 NDFB rebels from four factions laid down their arms on January 30, last year, following the signing of the historic BTR pact in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Centre has already provided the BTC administration with a Rs 1,500 crore special development package to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

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