Peace and Solidarity Visit to Assam
The National Council of Churches in India having a membership of more than 13 million people, is deeply concerned about the violence in Assam especially in the three districts of Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Chirang. We are sorry to learn that the death toll has gone up to 79, with uncountable properties destroyed, and more than 4, 00,000 people made homeless and now living in 338 relief camps.
Having sent a team on 20-21 August 2012, along with church leaders from the region namely the North East India Christian Council (NEICC), Presbyterian Church of India (PCI), Council of Baptist Churches in India (CBCNEI), and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Joint Peace Mission Team (JPMT), and Inter-Church Peace Mission (ICPM), the NCCI realizes that the problem in the region is quite complex. The team had visited relief camps of both the communities at Chirang, Kokrajhar and Bogaigaon districts. The conditions of the relief camps are seen in a pathetic situation even though basic rations, shelter and health care are provided by the government. It is but inevitable that there has been and continues to be a struggle among the different people groups for ownership of land, for protecting their respective identities and cultures, and for political and economic control over the region.
While it is being seen that people are beginning to return home from the relief camps, the reality is that most of them are afraid that when they return they would be subject to attacks in future. Therefore efforts have to be taken to provide security for the people to return to their homes and reconstruct their lives. Living with this lurking fear, they are faced with the big challenge of reconstructing their houses and re-establishing their means of livelihood.
The team also met the Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Tarun Gogoi on the evening of 21st August 2012 at his residence and shared our deep concern over the violence. He endorses the activity of the church in the relief and rehabilitation works. He welcomed and requested the church to be part of the peace building process.
The National Council of Churches in India expresses its deep concern and pain at the senseless killing, loss of lives, and properties in the ongoing conflict between the two communities in the southern part of Assam who have been living together for many generations. It strongly urges them to shun violence. We call upon all citizens to be harbingers of peace. Indeed we call upon all communities to respect life and not to resort to violence as a solution to any problem. Violence breeds further violence and therefore it should be shunned. At the same time the NCCI expresses its deep concern for and solidarity with the victims of the violence. The NCCI will be ever willing to partner with the government and other agencies in relief services, rehabilitation, reconciliation and peace building endeavours.
The NCCI therefore urges