Red-tapism hit Army dispatch
The blood bath in Assam could have been avoided had the Army moved in early on the request of the state which witnessed communal violence that left 56 dead and 61 injured.
The sequence of events clearly point out the fact that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was caught in red-tapism despite the deputy collector of Kokrajhar was the first to send request for Army columns to a local commanding officer on July 20 — the day when violence was beginning to swell in Bodoland Territorial Autonomous districts. However, the CO is believed to have said that they cannot move in unless they get orders from their top bosses.
For five days, starting from July 20, neither top Army generals nor the ministry of defence acted swiftly to send troops to ensure peace in the council that witnessed clash between Bodos and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is believed to have been informed about the glaring lapses on the defence ministry, which, government sources said, needs to amend its Standard Operating Procedure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Though the state was burning, the MoD was of the view that the request has to come in a prescribed format — that is the state has to request the Union Ministry of Home Affairs which in turn has to forward it to the defence ministry for final go ahead.
This runs contrary to the law of the land, government sources said. As per section 130 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a district magistrate or district collector is well within his power to requisition for the Army if the public security is endangered due to large assembly of crowd, officers in Assam and home ministry said.
A day after, since the violence was spreading, the state home secretary is said to have written to the MHA and defence ministry seeking immediate Army deployment in Bodo districts. But, for the next two days the defence ministry did not instruct the Army to march to the disturbed areas.
Sources said since July 21 was Saturday, it was quite possible that the South Block office of the ministry might have been closed for two days due to which they did not come to know about it.
On July 24, the state government took up the matter again with the MHA and MoD. Finally, the defence ministry issued orders late in the evening and the Army moved out of the barracks only on July 25 morning to conduct a flag march.