Badruddin Ajmal is Assam’s tallest Muslim leader. S.N.M. Abdi talks to the Dhubri MP and president of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the state’s principal opposition party, about casualties and the efficacy of relief operations.
The official death toll is 56. What is your figure?
There are hundreds of corpses rotting in remote areas where well-planned cleansing drives were executed with the blessings of the administration. A proper headcount of the dead or missing will take a very long time.
Any idea of the Bodo/Muslim break-up of casualties?
Ninety per cent of those killed are Muslims. If I even attempt an estimate of the factual toll, I’ll be accused of making provocative statements and obstructing the return of normalcy. So I don’t want to go public with the information collected by my party. But I’ll open my mouth after the government comes up with its final death toll.
Your party has accused the state of turning a blind eye to the massacre of Muslims. It’s a very serious charge.
Tarun Gogoi has betrayed those he is constitutionally bound to protect. He is not only the CM but also the home minister. So he has no excuses. It’s now as clear as daylight that the CM had advance information of preparations to kill Muslims. But he did not act. Now he is transferring DCs, SPs, SDOs, SDPOs and officers-in-charge. FIRs should be immediately filed against the guilty officials and they must be tried. If the CM has a conscience, he should resign. He’s solely responsible.
Why demand a CBI inquiry?
Because Muslims have no faith in the state government. The PM is an MP from Assam. He must order an impartial, independent investigation instead of being misguided and misinformed by the CM who has much to hide.
Are you satisfied with the pace of relief and rehabilitation measures?
The whole exercise is a farce. Even the victims of the 1993 violence are yet to be rehabilitated. India has no idea of what’s going on in Assam.
There are reports that infiltrating Bangladeshis instigated the current flare-up.
These are cock-and-bull stories spun by the BJP. R.K. Singh, the union home secretary, shot down these conspiracy theories no sooner than they were aired. Anyone propagating that Bangladeshis infiltrated India and ignited trouble is insulting our armed forces guarding the country’s international border. These are patently anti-national theories to shield the guilty; they have nothing to do with reality.