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(ANS – Kokrajhar) – In recent days in the area of Kokrajhar, in north-east India, there has been fierce fighting between the local tribal people the Bodo and immigrant land owners of the Islamic religion. The Salesians are also in the area and they are doing what they can to help the number of displaced persons.
AsiaNews reports that the violence started during the night between 21 and 22 July, when unidentified armed men killed four young Bodo tribesmen from Kokrajhar. According to the first investigations by the police, in revenge some tribesmen attacked some Muslims suspecting that they were responsible for the killing. Then the violence escalated with various groups setting fire to cars, houses and schools, and firing into dense crowds. Between 22 and 23 July the disorders spread also reaching the district of Chirang. At the last count over 50 had been killed and 170,000 people – including tribals and land owners – had fled from the villages.
On Saturday 28 July the President of the Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, and the Indian Prime Minister the Hon. Manmohan Singh, went to Kokrajhar. He described the conflict as “a stain on the image of India”.
The following day the new Provincial of Guwahati, Fr Thomas Vattathara also went to the place, met the religious and civil authorities and visited 5 of the 10 refugee camps already set up by the Don Bosco parish in Kokrajhar. The Provincial also authorised the distribution of rice, vegetables oil and salt. “We have also decided to provide clothing biscuits, oil, soap, sheets, mosquito nets, curtain material… The Province of Guwahati has already made a small sum of money available for first aid” Fr Vattathara said.
“All the schools and universities remain closed. Fortunately we managed to save the 46 Muslim workers who were building the girls’ hostel at Don Bosco Amguri, and 21 others in Kokrajhar who were doing rebuilding work. However, the house of one of the teachers at the Salesian Institute in Kokrajhar was set on fire. The atmosphere continues to be tense and unstable” the Provincial adds.
All the efforts of the Salesian Province of Guwahati will be coordinated by the “Bosco Reach Out” through two centres: Don Bosco Kokrajhar, and the Bengtol Centre, which will deal with the aid for the Chirang District. At the first aid will be coordinated by the Rector of “Bosco Reach Out”, Fr Thomas KJ; while at Bengtol it will be the responsibility of Fr Thomas Lakra, the Vice Provincial.
Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, lay people and volunteers are already working to help with the assistance. The Don Bosco Institute in Guwahati, under the guidance of Fr Johnson Parackal are organising a lorry full of first aid material for Kokrajhar.