Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

ACHR Index: PR/IND-ASM/06/05
7 November 2005

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 dole.

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 Mr Chakma.

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 of Investigation.

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