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Tyres used to light funeral pyres in Assam
Published on 12 Oct. 2009 11:30 PM IST
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The use of tyres in pyres of October 4 massacre of 13 villagers by Bodo rebels at Bhimajuli Balichang in Sonitpur district and its subsequent justification by the chief minister has landed the government in an embarrassing situation, forcing it to issue clarifications. As many as ten pyres were lit together on the banks of Balichang river two days after the massacre, with the district administration providing for the necessary wood and oil. However, the use of tyres in the pyres led to a controversy, with Chief Minister Tarun Gogois off-the-cuff comment, that its use was a normal practice in the state, worsening the situation. The attention of the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had also been drawn to the matter by the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS). As the controversy refused to die down with news channels and newspapers showing the pictures of pyres made with tyres, the state government had shot three clarifications from as many concerned parties to explain its stance. A press note from the chief ministers office over the weekend maintained that the families of the deceased who had met Mr Gogoi on Friday clarified before him that the decision to use tyres was their own. The families clarified that the tyres were used to form the base of the pyres as the river bank is sandy and it was the social norm in the area, the clarification said. A letter, signed by the families of the victims, handed over to Mr Gogoi during his Friday visit was also circulated to the media, in which the former stated that the use of tyres at the base of the pyre was a social norm in the area and no scarcity of wood was responsible for the action. A third clarification was issued by the Sonitpur district administration, informing that it had provided four truck loads of wood, 15 kgs of ghee, 40 lt of kerosene and other materials needed, reported UNI. However, the controversy created resentment among the masses as the authorities failed to nab the NDFB militants responsible for the carnage and were instead seen concentrating in justifying the chief ministers remark.

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