Indian troops hunt killers in tiger park

TROOPS on elephants were yesterday scouring a tiger reserve for tribal rebels who massacred 69 people in one of the worst outbreaks of violence for several years in India's troubled north-east.

New Delhi has sent 3,000 troops to Assam after insurgents of the outlawed Bodo Security Force raided a camp set up for displaced people. Three attackers and 69 camp-dwellers, Muslims who had fled their homes, were killed in Sunday's clash. A senior police officer said the rebels had fled into a tiger reserve near the border with Bhutan. India was seeking permission to pursue them across the frontier if necessary.

Tension between Bodo tribespeople and Bengali Muslims, most of whom have been squeezed out of neighbouring Bangladesh by poverty and overpopulation, has erupted several times in recent months. In May, 22 people were killed and hundreds injured when Bodos rioted against the incursion of Muslim settlers into their traditional areas. The Bodo Security Force has been fighting for an autonomous region north of the Brahmaputra river, which bisects the state, for six years. In that time more than 1,000 people have died.

Assam is the richest of the strategic 'seven sisters' - the mountainous north-eastern states bordering Burma and China. It is the country's main tea-growing area, and has large reserves of oil and minerals. But it is also the most violent state in a region where there is chronic friction between nomadic hill people and settlers from the overcrowded plains. Although Assam has a Hindu tradition, unlike the rest of the north-east, and most of the incomers are Muslim, tensions are ethnic and political rather than religious.

The Indian military has been engaged almost permanently in containing half a dozen rebellions in the 'seven sisters', most of whose indigenous people have closer cultural links to groups living in Burma, Tibet and China than they do to the subcontinent's Hindu majority. Assam has two separate conflicts: while the Bodo minority wants autonomy for its areas, the left-wing United Liberation Front of Assam has been fighting since the 1980s for independence for the whole state, in which only 1.5 million of the 22 million population are tribal.

Under the late Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian authorities launched a drive to lure insurgent movements into the political process. This had some success in states such as Tripura and Mizoram, where former rebels now hold power, while in Manipur a tribal uprising was stamped out. Outside Assam the worst violence is in Nagaland, where Naga insurgents have been seeking for more than four decades to carve a homeland out of the state, along with parts of Manipur and Burma.

Allegations of brutality are common on both sides of the region's many insurgencies, but human rights organisations are hampered by Indian restrictions on foreigners entering the area. While diplomats are at liberty to visit Kashmir without notice, they have to obtain permission in advance to go to any part of the north-east.

(Map omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written