By- Staff Reporter | Date- January 14, 2012
It has been 14 years today for a village in Assam who has never been able to celebrate the much beloved Magh Bihu festival of the Assamese. The otherwise fun filled Magh Bihu has never been Bhogali for these people ever since the night of Uruka, January 13 of 1998 when Bodo militants massacred 17 persons, including nine women and a minor girl, and injured five seriously. Since then the people of that village is avoiding the national festive with the oath not to do celebrate until they achieve justice.
On that fateful night, about 12 Bodo militants, armed with modern weapons, fired on members of three families living in Kekerikuchi and Metangapar villages, 13 km from Rangiya near the Indo-Bhutan border.
For Prabin Kalita, 25 then, it was a shock of his life when he returned back home celebrating Bihu feast in the paddy fields with his friends. Five members of his dearest ones were are dead,- it was the smell of blood that filled his house instead of the aroma of delicacies which were supposed to prepared for that night’s feast. His father Gunaram Kalita (70), his mother Kunja (65), sisters Geeta (20) and Babita (18) and brother Pramod (16) fell victims of the propaganda of blood thirsty militants.
For Hemkanta Kalita, it was a similar heartbreaking experience, losing his wife Pratibha (35), mother Jayanti (70), brother Dwipen (22), sister-in-law Lipika(18), daughter Hiron (7), son Babu (5) and niece Geetanjali (17).
Families of Dharmeswar Kalita (18) and Maheswar Haloi (15), who were students then and were killed on their way back from Bihu celebrations still cried at the thought and questions as to why their sons had to die. The same for Gajen Bhuyan (29), his mother Pheleni (60) and wife Bina (23) who were all killed.
For Assam, it was the first time that suspected Bodo militants had attacked an Assamese-speaking village in such monstrous way. The Assam Police had suspected that it was handiwork of Bodo Liberation Tigers; however the then DGP of Assam Police, K Hrishikeshan had stated later that they were no sure which Bodo group did it.
For all villagers who lived through those fateful days have never been able to celebrate Bihu ever since. AASHWAS, an Assam Police Project to help the child victims of violence in Assam itself later concluded while carrying out a sensitization campaign at Kekerikuchi that the people in these villages have been living a life of terror, children traumatized and distrust. Fear inter-community tension, movement of extremists and action of the state have caused a serious breach in social life in general causing irreparable damage for the village children mentally, educationally and socially.
There has been various efforts done by NGOs and projects like AASHWAS to make the people of the region come back to a life of normalcy. In 2002, The All Bodo Students Union, on behalf of the neighboring villages of Kekerikuchi contributed a token amount for constructing a Memorial for the 17 killed. This led the mutually suspecting communities held hands of each other in the locality and living in harmony hereafter.
As the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. The bitter fact here is just is not only delayed but little chance of being given. The Bodo Liberation Tigers are now the rulers of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts(BTAD) and some of the ex-militants including BLT chief Hagrama Mohilary belonging are part of the state Ministry. The other militant group National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB), though have divided into two factions, are in process of coming to terms by holding lateral talks with the Government which would give their members all kinds of forgiveness to their horrendous crimes.