KOKRAJHAR, (C.M. Paul) – The clash between Bodos and immigrant Muslims, which had started in Kokrajhar and spread to Chirang, took over the neighbouring Dhubri district on 23rdJuly have now left 44 dead, hundreds injured, thousands of homes burnt down, villages destroyed, and more than two hundred thousand people in refugee camps.
The newly appointed Salesian provincial of Guwahati Fr V.M. Thomas rushed to Kokrajhar yesterday (29 July) and met the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and decided to start the relief and rehabilitation measures immediately. Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh visited the affected areas on 28th July accompanied by the State Chief Minister and Governor. Home Minister PC Chidambaram is making a two day visit to the state today (30 July). Provincial is residing at Kokrajhar for couple of days to assess, plan, implement, monitor the progress of the relief and rehabilitation operations.
Fr VM writes from Kokrajhar – I am co-ordinating the efforts now and will be personally be visiting 5 camps today (30 July) in Kokrajhar area and distributing relief materials supplementing the efforts of the Government who are actively involved in giving rice, dal, oil and salt. We have decided to provide clothes, biscuits, oil, soap, bedsheets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins etc. The Salesian Province of Guwahati has already set aside a modest amount for immediate relief.
Vice Provincial Thomas Lakra SDB has been given responsibility of supervising the relief and rehabilitation operations at the Bengtol Centre and the Provincial himself is coordinating the programme at Kokrajhar and the coordination will be handed over to Fr. KJ Thomas, Director Bosco Reach Out from Wednesday (1st August). Salesian Personnel and Teams of Sisters FMA and MSMHC, Pre novices, lay leaders and other volunteers are being mobilised to help in the relief efforts. Don Bosco Institute, Guwahati under the leadership of Fr. Johnson Parackal is rushing a truck load of required relief materials to Kokrajhar.
All schools and colleges remain closed. Fortunately we rescued the 46 Muslim workers who were constructing the girls hostel at Don Bosco Amguri, and 21 in Kokrajhar who were renovating the house, thanks to special efforts of Fr. Damien Basumatary of DonBoscoSchool, Kokrajhar. House of one of the senior teachers of Don Bosco Kokrajhar was burnt. The atmosphere continues to be tense and volatile. Over two hundred thousand people are in refugee camps.
The entire effort of the Salesian province will be co-ordinated by the Bosco Reach Out from two centres one at Don Bosco Kokrajhar and the other at Bengtol looking after the Chirang District.