Protesting members of the All Assam Minority Student Union (AAMSU) have called for an end to the ongoing ethnic massacre in Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) areas by tribal militants who resent the presence of immigrants from Bangladesh. 34 Muslims have been killed so far since the violence began last week.
The protesters demanded the dissolution of BTAD and called for strong action against those responsible for the violence, including BTAD chief Hagrama Mohilary. They also demanded the resignation of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for his inability to stop the violence.
A Muslim who had come to buy food in Barama, a town about 30 km from villages in Baksa District where the violence erupted on Thursday and Friday, said men armed with rifles had come to his village, Masalpur, on bicycles and had fired indiscriminately and set huts on fire.
The BJP Minority Front has also protested against the killings. Its president, Mominul Hoq said villagers of the area suspect that the state government was involved in the violence.
Sporadic outbreaks of violence are common against Muslims who live alongside the Bodo tribe in western Assam, near the borders of Bangladesh and the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan. Bodo militants say the Muslims are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who have taken ancestral lands, while members of the minority group say they were mostly born in India.
The BJP has condemned the killings and accused the Congress, which runs the Assam government of doing too little to contain the insurgency in the state. The BJP's candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, has also said illegal immigrants need to go back to Bangaldesh, drawing criticism from his opponents. Modi has accused the Assam government of being soft on "infiltrators" from Bangladesh.
Critics have accused the BJP of having a deep-seated prejudice against Muslims, who make up more than 12% of India's 1.2 billion people. The BJP, on the other hand, claims that it only opposes preferential treatment for any one community.