Did freely available guns make Assam violence worse?

Assam's demography, politics and economic factors may have contributed to the violence that has seen thousands displaced in three districts of the state but according to Sanjoy Hazarika, Director at Centre for North-east Studies,the inability to stem the spread of illegal arms in the state has only made things worse.

"A significant point which I think needs to be acknowledged is that there are a lot of weapons which are floating around, not just is Assam's four district but across the North-east," Hazarika said in an interview to CNN-IBN.

Riot-affected women at a relief camp at Commerce College in violence-hit Kokrajhar district of Assam on Thursday. PTI

"Unless you tackle people who have weapons, whether it is to assist a political group or an underground group, you are going to continue to have these problems," he added.

Clashes between Bodos and minority immigrants in four Assam districts continued for the fifth day in a row, with the death toll from the violence rising to 44. Over two lakh people in almost 400 villages have been displaced.

According to Hazarika, the inability to stop guns reaching individuals has resulted in them having a sense of impunity.

"It is not suddenly exploded. This has been happening over a period of time. It's a tragedy in the making for some years. There have been incidence of arson, kidnapping, extortion and violence. A sense of immunity and impunity permeates those who conduct this things," he said.

Due to numerous ethnic groups in the region and the clashes between them, it if difficult to understand the complexity of the situation, Hazarika said.

"We need to recognise that there are numerous ethnic, demographic groups in those four districts which have been disturbed. Its not one sided or two sided, its many sided. This makes it extremely difficult to understand the complexity of the situation," he said.

The only way, Hazarika said, to resolve this is to built trust between communities, something political parties have been failing to do for many years.

"Its not going to get resolve by a quick fix solution. Each political party has failed to take the next step after the violence fades. You need to built trust between communities," he said.

Updated Date: Jul 27, 2012 11:23 AM

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