TIME India

A High-Profile Corporate Lawyer Is India’s New Finance Minister

Jaitley is administered oath of office by India's President Mukherjee as a cabinet minister at the presidential palace in New Delhi
Adnan Abidi/Reuters—Reuters Arun Jaitley takes the oath of office as the country's new Finance Minister at the presidential palace in New Delhi on May 26, 2014

Arun Jaitley faces a tough battle to boost growth, rein in inflation and help new Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver on key campaign promises to revive India's flagging economy

Arun Jaitley, a senior leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a top corporate lawyer, has been named India’s new Finance Minister, tasked with turning the nation’s flagging economy around and restoring the confidence of foreign investors. He was sworn into the Cabinet on Monday along with India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jaitley, 61, does not inherit an easy job. India’s growth has dropped from over 9% five years ago to less than 5% in recent years. Retail inflation is high, and the fiscal deficit is deep. One of Modi’s chief campaign promises was to get India’s economy back on track. The BJP’s majority in Parliament is widely expected by observers to help his administration do that.

“The challenges are very obvious,” Jaitley said in a press conference after he was named, according to NDTV. “We have to restore back the pace of growth, contain inflation and obviously concentrate on fiscal consolidation itself.”

Jaitley served in several ministries in the last BJP-led coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He is said to be a longtime ally of Modi, both after the 2002 Gujarat riots and later when rifts among the BJP’s leadership emerged over Modi’s appointment as prime-ministerial candidate last fall. Jaitley has also been the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament. This election, he stood for a seat in Lok Sabha, India’s lower house, vying for a constituency in Amritsar in the northern state of Punjab, but lost.

Jaitley will also temporarily be in charge of the Defense Ministry. Other key appointments in Modi’s new government include senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who will be the new Minister of External Affairs, and Rajnath Singh, who will be the new Home Minister in charge of securing India against terrorist threats, among other responsibilities.

TIME India

Narendra Modi Sworn In as India’s New Prime Minister

Prakash Singh—AFP/Getty Images India Prime Minister Designate Narendra Modi gestures as he pays tributes at Rajghat, memorial of Mahatama Gandhi in New Delhi on May 26, 2014.

India looks to its 15th Prime Minister to deliver on campaign promises to boost jobs and overhaul government

Update: May 26, 9:52 a.m. ET

Narendra Modi was sworn in on Monday as India’s 15th Prime Minister, ringing in a new era of governance for the world’s largest democracy. Chief among the guests at the swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi was Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, among other South Asian leaders.

Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a decisive victory in India’s national elections this month, winning 282 of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. Fueled by a strong anti-incumbency sentiment across the country, it was the biggest victory for a single party in decades, and has given Modi and his administration a clear mandate to move forward with the reforms he promised voters throughout the five weeks of polling.

Speculation has been rife over whom Modi will appoint to his Cabinet to enact those changes, particularly to the crucial post of Finance Minister. One of Modi’s chief campaign pledges was to create jobs and get the floundering Indian economy back on a high-growth path, along with improving governance inside and outside the capital. Governance and job creation were both strong facets of Modi’s long-time tenure as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

Modi has already announced plans to streamline the national ministries, minimizing the number of Cabinet ministers and expanding government at the grassroots level outside the capital. In recent years, the implementation of expensive government welfare schemes, like India’s massive direct food aid program and a national employment-guarantee act, has been spotty because of poor implementation on the ground.

The attendance today of Sharif and other leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries signals an early effort by Modi to strengthen political and economic ties in the region. Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, were quick to reach out to congratulate Modi after his party’s historic win. But while the U.S. in particular will continue to be an important ally to India, many observers expect that a government under Modi may take on a more Asia-centric approach to foreign policy.

TIME India

Arvind Kejriwal’s Very, Very Bad Day

Arvind Kejriwal campaigning in Amethi, India, May 1, 2014.
Virendra Singh—Hindustan Times/Getty Images Arvind Kejriwal campaigning in Amethi, India, May 1, 2014.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader was jailed Wednesday after refusing to pay bail over a defamation complaint, just hours after issuing an apology for stepping down as New Delhi's Chief Minister after only 49 days, a move which many believe condemned his party to an electoral humbling

As India gets ready to ring in a new Prime Minister on May 26, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, fresh from his defeat by PM designate Narendra Modi in Varanasi, was sent into judicial custody on Wednesday, reports PTI.

According to several Indian news outlets, Kejriwal refused to pay bail in a defamation suit filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Nitin Gadkari, and has been taken to Tihar Jail in New Delhi. Gadkari has complained that Kejriwal included his name on a list of “India’s most corrupt.”

Earlier in the day, the former civil servant had apologized for stepping down as Chief Minister of New Delhi in February after less than two months on the job. AAP, on its fiery platform of battling corruption, had a surprisingly strong showing in its electoral debut in legislative polls in December, winning 28 seats.

With the outside support of Congress, AAP formed the Delhi government and Kejriwal, with some apparent reluctance, took the Chief Minister’s seat, only to resign in 49 days. Kejriwal said he was quitting because the anti-corruption bill he was backing did not pass the legislature. But many speculated it was a strategic move for the up-and-coming politico to free himself to work on the fledgling party’s first national campaign.

Whatever the motivation, the move inspired a mixed response. Ardent supporters appreciated that Kejriwal took the high road, and was willing to give up his prestigious post in the name of fighting corruption. In Varanasi, AAP supporters made a strong showing in the run-up to the vote, despite Kejriwal’s eventual defeat there. Mustaq Khan, an auto-rickshaw driver, stood along the side of the road carrying an 8-foot tall homemade broom, the AAP party symbol. “The 49 days that Kejriwal ruled Delhi, nobody could as done as well,” Khan said. “He quit on principle. He wasn’t attached to power.”

Others felt the new party had squandered the chance voters had given it and that made many think twice about voting for the AAP candidates in their own constituencies when national polls came around. “Aam Aadmi did very well on corruption,” Ansar Khan, a 52-year-old tailor in the Dharavi slum of Mumbai, said. Khan was voting Congress, but, he says, he had been planning to give AAP a chance before they quit. “Even if they struggled, we would have understood. Instead, AAP made a fool of the people that voted for them.”

Those people weren’t going to be fooled twice. Out of the over 430 seats the party contested in national elections, AAP won only four. Now the party is regrouping — or at least it was, until Kejriwal’s arrest on Wednesday. “In the coming weeks we will hold a lot of [gatherings], apologize to Delhi’s citizens and convince them to give us a clear majority so that we can form the country’s first corruption-free government,” Kejriwal told reporters before he was , according to NDTV. It’s a start, but even the party chief sounded unconvinced it would work: “Chances of our forming a government under the circumstances are negligible.”


Five Things You Need To Know About India’s Next Prime Minister

Narendra Modi, the charismatic and controversial politician set to become India's next leader, has been widely credited with the sweeping victory that his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured on Friday, according to partial results from the recently concluded general elections. Here are a five things you should know about the man who will shortly be running the show in the world's largest democracy


Humble Beginnings

Modi, 63, began his life in Gujarat as the son of a tea-seller. He started working at an early age, hawking chai—tea—at the Ahmedabad railway station and a bus terminus with his brother. It was as a tribute to these humble beginnings that the BJP came up with the innovative “Chai Pe Charcha” campaign (A Chat Over Tea), where Modi interacted with potential voters at tea stalls around the country using video, internet and mobile links. Modi’s campaign also made extensive use of social media to whip up support. In another eye-catching move, Modi held simultaneous campaign rallies using technology that beamed his holographic image to gatherings across India.

Veteran Politician

Dubbed one of India’s most eligible bachelors for years, it was only recently that Modi publicly acknowledged he was married to a retired school teacher, Jashodaben Chimanlal, who still lives in Gujarat. They were wed at 17, but Modi soon left her to pursue a life devoted to religion and politics. (The two are still legally married.) Shortly after, he became a pracharak, or activist, for the right wing Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). At 36, he was assigned to the BJP, which has close links to the RSS, and rose through the party’s state ranks to become his home state’s chief minister in 2001. In 2012, he won his fourth term, becoming the state’s longest serving leader.

No Stranger to Controversy

Not so long ago, the prospect of a Modi-led government would have seemed a remote possibility to many, especially in the then-Congress bastion of New Delhi. Shortly after he took office as chief minister, bloody sectarian riots broke out in Gujarat in 2002, in which more than 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. Modi’s critics blamed his administration for not doing enough to stop the anti-Muslim wave of violence as it unfolded; some alleged that he had a role in inciting it. Modi has always strongly denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the tragedy, and Indian courts have cleared him of the same. But the controversy has followed him. The BJP heralded today’s results as a victory over caste- and religion-centric politics, but many Muslims both in and outside Gujarat continue to harbor deep apprehensions about Modi’s leadership.

India Inc Has High Hopes for Him

One of the central themes of Modi’s successful campaign was his pledge to get India’s flagging economy back on the high-growth path of yesteryear. In Gujarat, Modi has successfully attracted major companies like Ford, Nestle and Colgate by setting up a suite of business-friendly practices, including streamlining India’s notorious bureaucracy and giving businesses easy access to officials and land. Those policies — and Modi’s famously decisive leadership style — have earned him the support of some of India’s biggest companies who are counting on him to restore the shine to India. (Voters, too, are hoping he can tackle other pressing issues like rising food prices.) As soon as early results began to trickle in on Friday morning, the BSE Sensex shot up and the Indian Rupee strengthened, though analysts cautioned that the tangible economic impact of a Modi government will take time to materialize.

A Relative Newcomer to Delhi

Another refrain among early doubters of Modi’s meteoric rise to the PM’s seat was the fact that India’s leaders have typically cut their teeth in the political circles of the country’s capital, New Delhi, not in state-level politics. Observers say this election may signal a major change in the way the Indians are voting, away from the dynastic politics of the Congress Party and toward a populist figure who has not spent his career in India’s capital. It also raises questions of how Modi will build political foundations in India’s schmoozey capital city. Will the same commanding leadership style that makes him a hit amongst businessmen fly amongst his parliamentary colleagues?

TIME India

India’s Opposition On Track to Sweep National Elections

The Bharatiya Janata Party has scored a major victory and appears on track to have won a majority of seats in the lower house of Parliament, pulling off the best election performance by a single party in decades and paving the way for Narendra Modi to become the nation’s next Prime Minister

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has scored a major victory in India’s national elections and appears on track to have won a majority of seats in India’s lower house of Parliament, paving the way for Narendra Modi to become the nation’s next Prime Minister.

Partial counting indicates that the Hindu-nationalist party has pulled off the best performance by a single party in decades, buoyed both by Modi’s well-received campaign and a profound anti-incumbency sentiment felt across the nation after 10 years of government under the outgoing Congress Party. According to partial results at 9:30 E.T., the BJP was leading with 283 out of 543 seats in India’s lower house of parliament, according to India’s Press Information Bureau, a number that would give the party an absolute majority and clear mandate in the next government.

Though final results have yet to be announced, many foreign heads of state are reportedly already scrambling to congratulate Modi. “Good days are coming,” Modi said in a speech before supporters in Gujarat on Friday evening.From today for next five years, the journey has started.”

A record number of voters participated in world’s largest election, a mammoth five-week process that ended on May 12. Over 66% of eligible voters cast their ballots, compared with 58% in the last vote in 2009.

The results so far are a massive blow to Congress, very likely facing its worst showing ever with only 45 seats, according to partial results. The party has already conceded defeat, with analysts blaming it on the poor performance of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in leading the party’s campaign and, more broadly, an overall crisis in party leadership.

“We have to introspect,” Kapil Sibal, a Congress minister who appeared set to lose his New Delhi parliamentary seat to a BJP candidate, told NDTV. “We have to [make] corrections and look at it positively.”

In its first national contest, the Aam Aadmi Party, led by former bureaucrat Arvind Kejriwal, is on track for a relatively muted showing — leading in just four seats at 9:30 E.T. — compared with its successful first state elections in New Delhi in December. After taking control of the New Delhi government, Kejriwal stepped down from the chief minister’s post after less than two months in office, a move widely seen as damaging to the fledgling party in its national debut.

Markets, meanwhile, surged on the strong BJP indicators, with the Sensex reaching an all-time high and the rupee gaining strength. Indian industrialists have long been clambering for more pro-business policies from Congress and its allies, and have said Modi’s decisive leadership style will help get the economy back on the high-growth path.

Modi’s fast climb in national politics has taken many in India by surprise since his appointment as the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate in September. Having famously sold tea as a boy on the train platforms of his hometown in the western state of Gujarat, Modi rose through the state’s political machine to become its powerful chief minister in 2001. It’s a narrative that resonates with many Indian voters, but he has also been a divisive figure since a wave of bloody religious riots took place on his watch in Gujarat in 2002, in which over 1,000 Muslims were killed. Though Modi has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the courts, many, particularly within India’s large Muslim community, remain apprehensive about the prospect of a Modi-led government.

Aware of these sensitivities, the BJP was careful to downplay its Hindu roots throughout its campaign, focusing instead on issues of stable governance, development and job creation as Modi set out to reinvent himself as a national leader. His team ran a tireless and well-organized campaign, holding hundreds of rallies around the nation and making astute use of social media and carefully targeted advertising.

The party’s resounding win reflects the more conservative mind-set of provincial as opposed to metropolitan India. “It’s the first time you have a regional leader come to power in the center on his own gumption,” says Pradeep Chhibber, a political scientist at University of California, Berkeley. “This is a victory for small-town conservative India.”

TIME India

Why India’s Elections Took So Long

The polls opened on April 7 and shut on May 12, over five weeks later. So what took India so long to elect a new parliament?

As India awaits the final results of its marathon elections, officials are getting ready to breathe a collective sigh of relief that the world’s largest democratic exercise is nearly over. Polling, which started on April 7, took place on nine separate days over five weeks, and ended on May 12. Voter turnout hit a record high of over 66%, compared to 58% in the last national polls in 2009, with final results expected on May 16. “Despite the heat of the Indian summer, we have had a historic all-time high voter turnout, which was a great achievement,” says Akshay Rout, director general of India’s Election Commission.

This was not India’s longest election cycle — 2009 was a few days longer, says Rout — but it wasn’t exactly speedy. So why does it take so long for India to vote? The short of it is this: India’s big. According to the government, there were some 814 million eligible voters in this election — more than the combined populations of the entire European Union or North America. Those voters speak dozens of languages and live in some of the world’s most chaotic urban spaces and some of its most isolated villages. “This is not only the biggest election in the world, it’s the largest human management project in the world,” says S.Y. Quraishi, former chief election commissioner and author of An Undocumented Wonder — The Making of the Great Indian Election. “It’s a very plural society, and we have to make sure nobody is left out.”

To do that, the government deployed some 11 million employees, including security forces and government workers, to help carry out the polls at over 900,000 stations smattered around the country. Nearly two million electronic voting machines were dispatched to help the government keep its pledge that no one should have to travel more than a mile or so to vote. A polling station was set up in Gujarat for a single man who lives in a forest there, complete with staff and its own voting machine. The availability of central and state police to keep voters and workers safe dictates the length of the vote, as does moving them and the necessary equipment around the nation. The days on which voting takes place also have to take into consideration local festivals and school and farming schedules.

Such a prolonged process is not without disadvantages. This cycle, voters and observers were critical about the tenor of the political debate, with top politicians taking increasingly low pot shots at each other as campaigning intensified over the five-week period. More worrying, perhaps, is the likelihood of voters at the end of the cycle being influenced by media reports of the vote’s progress. Opinion polls and exit polls during the voting period are not permitted, but India’s robust domestic 24-7 news cycle would have been hard for millions to avoid. One could certainly argue, for instance, that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have benefited from a sense of growing popularity of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi conveyed by the media during the five-week vote, potentially giving the party an advantage that a one-day poll would not have offered.

But paramount in the process is security, says Quraishi, both to protect voters and election workers in insecure and remote areas, and to ensure that polling booths aren’t commandeered and rigged in favor of a certain politician. Despite precautions, there have been several incidents of election-related violence this year, including a landmine blast that killed seven police officers in a Maoist area of Maharashtra one day before the final May 12 vote. There were also incidents of deadly election-related violence in Kashmir, Jharkhand and Assam. Still, Indian elections used to be a much bloodier affair, Quraishi says. Voting may be long but it is, by and large, peaceful. “Anything that upsets a free and fair election is upsetting to us,” he says. “But what’s the alternative? Loss of life isn’t worth it.”

TIME India

Opposition Set to Win India Elections, Exit Polls Say

BJP leader Narendra Modi flashes the v-sign to supporters as he is surrounded by bodyguards while driving through the streets on May 8, 2014 in Varanasi, India.
Kevin Frayer—Getty Images The Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi flashes the V sign to supporters as he is driven through the streets in Varanasi on May 8, 2014

The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies may have won enough votes to lead a coalition government, which would position BJP leader Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister of India. Final results are due on Friday

Exit polls indicate that an alliance led by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to win the national elections in India, as voting drew to a close Monday.

A poll by C-Voter, a research group, indicated the BJP and its allies could win 289 seats in Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, giving the coalition the majority needed to oust the incumbent Congress Party and form the nation’s next government. A poll by ABP-Nielsen predicted the BJP-led coalition would secure 281 seats, according to Reuters.

If the exit polls prove to be correct — which is no guarantee — they would put BJP leader Narendra Modi in pole position to become the next Prime Minister of India.

The final phase of India’s five-week election ended on Monday at 6 p.m. local time, with a crucial vote taking place in Varanasi, where Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal went head-to-head for the parliamentary seat in the holy Hindu city in the state of Uttar Pradesh. With 80 Lok Sabha seats, Uttar Pradesh is key to Indian elections and has been a focal point of the BJP’s drive to end the Congress Party’s 10 years of government in New Delhi. Results are due to be announced on Friday, May 16.

Voter turnout over the nine-phase vote hit a record high of over 66%. Analysts have said a high turnout may not bode well for Congress, with voters weary of a government beleaguered by a weak economy and allegations of corruption. The previous highest voter turnout was registered in the 1984–85 general elections, when some 64% of eligible voters showed up to the polls after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.


Changes to the U.S. Visa Program Could Be Good News for Techies

Reforms proposed by the White House this week to allow the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to work in the U.S. could be good for families from countries like India, which has thousands of nationals working in the U.S. tech sector under the program

The White House has proposed reforms that would make life easier for many families moving to the U.S. to work in the country’s tech sector.

The proposed immigration changes, announced on May 6, would allow the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to work in the United States, if the holders are in the process of applying for permanent residence.

“Once enacted, this proposed rule would empower these spouses to put their own education and skills to work for the country that they and their families now call home,” Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrote on the White House blog. “These actions promise to unleash more of the extraordinary contributions that immigrants have always made to America’s economy.”

The news is sure to come as a relief to many. India, for example, has thousands of skilled citizens working in U.S. on H-1B visas — many currently living in frustrating situations that have been an ongoing subject of Indian media coverage.

Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president of the National Association for Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), says the proposed changes would benefit both India and the U.S.

Like families from elsewhere, “People [in India] were going irrespective of the fact that their spouses couldn’t work. They were making that tough decision,” Gupta says. But now, not only will conditions be easier on Indian families, the U.S. will benefit from the “phenomena of women who were so underutilized.”

U.S. tech companies have been lobbying for these changes, among others, to the H-1B visa program. Demand for the visas surged this year. Leaders in the industry say the program’s existing regulations — including the inability of spouses to work and the current annual limit of 85,000 on the number of visas granted under the program — puts the U.S. at a disadvantage in terms of attracting the best of the global work force.

The proposed changes were not, however, welcomed by all. Though the fact that they would allow spouses to contribute to the local economy is considered a boon by supporters like Gupta, that’s exactly what opponents take exception to. Charles Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, told the New York Times that Obama’s administration announcement demonstrated a “lack of compassion and understanding” for unemployed Americans by expanding work benefits to immigrants.

TIME India

While Indian Politicians Argue, People in Assam Stuck in Violent Cycle

Biju Boro—AFP/Getty Images An Indian resident salvages valuables in the remains of his house in the village of Khagrabari, some 200 km west of Guwahati on May 3, 2014, after it was attacked by tribal separatists in India's remote northeastern state of Assam

More than 30 Muslims were killed in two districts of western Assam late last week, as long-simmering sectarian tensions become seized upon by Indian election rivals

Hanif Ali picks through the remains of what used to be his home, looking for his wife’s gold jewelry. Three nights before, on the evening of May 2, eyewitnesses say men in khaki clothing stormed this isolated village of Khagrabari in western Assam, attacking its Muslim residents and burning down their homes. Ali, his wife and his daughter survived the raid, but many of their neighbors did not. Twenty villagers, including many women and children, died that evening in the latest fit of bloodshed in the restive northeastern state. “Everything is gone,” says Ali. “What good will peace do me now?”

Last week, more than 30 Muslims were killed in two districts of western Assam, a place better known outside India for its verdant tea gardens than its simmering insurgency. For residents, it was an unwelcome return to the violence that periodically stalks this remote part when tensions boil up between members of the local Bodo community and Muslim residents. In 2012, clashes between Bodos and Muslims, some of whom are migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, left dozens dead and displaced many thousands more. Local police are blaming last week’s killings in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts on a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), a militant group fighting for an independent Bodo homeland. Since the killings, Indian security forces have ramped up operations against the group, though it has denied any involvement in the bloodshed.

Outside Assam, as national elections enter their final weeks, the violence has prompted a fresh war of words between national parties about the treatment of minority groups in India. Leaders of the incumbent Congress Party, which projects a secular platform, and its allies have seized on the incident as an example of the divisive influence of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is forecast to win the largest number of seats in Parliament. Both the BJP and its prime-ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, have spoken out against illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh in the past, which critics say fans tensions in a state where the issue is already a polarizing factor.

“In Assam, 30 Muslims were murdered. Why? Because BJP prime-ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, made a speech there and tried to incite people against Muslims,” Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said at a rally in his state on Saturday, according to Indian press. “This truth cannot be denied.” The same day, union minister and Congress Party senior leader Kapil Sibal also lashed out at Modi, saying his name stands for “a model of dividing India.”

Taking a stand against illegal immigration is not new for the BJP. After the 2012 Assam riots, senior party leader L.K. Advani blamed the bloodshed on unchecked illegal immigration from Bangladesh creating competition for resources between communities and general insecurity among Bodos. This week, the BJP quickly shot back at Congress for its comments, and, instead of backing down from the issue, at a rally in West Bengal, Modi reiterated his position against illegal immigrants days after the killings. “Those who come here for vote-bank politics and take away jobs of our youth will have to go back,” said Modi.

It’s impossible to measure, of course, what if any role political rhetoric actually played in last week’s violence. A handful of militant groups have been operating in the area for years. Though some have officially agreed to a cease-fire, the ongoing availability of arms in the region seems a more fundamental culprit in feeding the cycle of violence that afflicts both Bodos and Muslims alike. After widespread displacement in the state less than two years ago, hundreds of people are now back in relief camps, terrified to return home, lest more armed men come to their homes in the night again. Pramad Bodo, president of the All Bodo Students Union, says he does not think last week’s killings were religiously motivated. But, he says, everyone is weary of the seemingly fruitless fight between militants and security forces. “Bodo or Muslim — people are angry,” he says. “If the extremists are involved [this time], what has the government been doing?”

With reporting by Arijit Sen in Assam

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