GUWAHATI: The Assam government on Wednesday banned all types of bandhs for one month to ease the tension that has gripped the state following the outbreak of ethnic conflict in Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) areas on July 20. The decision to outlaw strikes was taken at a regular law and order review meeting chaired by chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
"The government on Wednesday decided to declare bandhs unconstitutional and illegal in compliance with the Supreme Court order," said home secretary GD Tripathi. "The government has also declared any attempts for forceful enforcement of bandh illegal and any violation will be dealt with firmly."
The ban comes a day after two consecutive strikes called by Hindu and Muslim groups over the violence in Bodo pockets. On Tuesday, the All Assam Minority Students' Union and 31 other groups under the United Movement for People's Rights enforced a 12-hour bandh seeking President's rule in Assam. They accused the government of failing to contain the violence against Bengali-speaking Muslims. One person was killed as the strike sparked street violence in a number of districts.
A day earlier, the Bajrang Dal had called a state-wide strike demanding the arrest of All India United Democratic Front chief Badaruddin Ajmal. The Hindu outfit charged Ajmal with giving a communal colour to Bodoland violence.
Worried by the continuing violence in the state, Gogoi on Tuesday asked political parties and other organizations not to call any strike at least for a month to help the situation return to normal.
Two years ago, the Gauhati High Court had first declared bandhs illegal and unconstitutional in line with a 1997 ruling by the Supreme Court that upheld a Kerala High Court order declaring bandhs unlawful. The Gauhati High Court said bandhs violate the fundamental rights of citizens.
Six strikes in five months
April 20: Anti-peace talks Ulfa faction calls a 12-hour shutdown against PM's visit
May 7: Peoples' Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement calls a 36-hour bandh demanding separate Bodoland
May 7: All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union enforce 24-hour bandh seeking a Kamatapur state
May 7: Ana-Boro Suraksha Samity calls strike to oppose inclusion of non-Bodos in BTC
May 22: All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union calls a strike in protest against police atrocities
May 26: Anti-peace talks Ulfa faction enforces a shutdown against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's visit
The Times of India