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Published : March 26, 2013 | Author : dhananjaykashyap
Category : Miscellaneous | Total Views : 2436 | Unrated

Dhananjay Kashyap, Law student, NIRMA University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Interested in writing on contemporary issues. ~~~~~~~~ Contact Info: Ph no: 8690054511

Assam-Explanation Needed
Unrest In Assam

Assam-Explanation Needed
There are issues in northeast which not only remains confined in northeast but is felt all over in India. North-eastern people faces institutional racism all over India and feel insecure. Recent violence against north-eastern people shows the differences.

The recent clashes between Bodos and Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District(BTAD) of Kokrajhar,Chirang, Baksa and Dhubri claimed around 100 lives and around 4 lakh people were displaced . This is not the first strife in Assam. The chapter began way down the line in 1983. On February 18th in 1983, 14 villages of Bengali speaking Muslims in Nellie were surrounded and thousands were hacked to death and their homes set on fire making it the worst massacre on independent India. This was the starting of violent clashes between the so called Bangladeshi immigrants and the indigenous population of Assam.

This incident was probed and a report was submitted but those responsible were never brought justice.

On July 14 1983, the Assam government appointed a commission enquiry chaired by Tribhuvan Prasad Tewari. It was supposed to look into the causes of the massacre and the measures taken by the concerned officials to stop it. The commission came out with disappointing report in May 1984 that showed that the massacre could have been stopped. The reports were based on the statements recorded by police officials and other witnesses. This was highly disappointing that reports showed that concerned officials did not act aptly despite of having information of happening of massacre beforehand. The inefficiency is clearly spectacled. The carnage continued for eight long hours and end up claiming thousands of lives. There were evidence of wireless messages which were sent to three police officers three days before the Nellie massacre. Had they responded to the messages, the massacre could have been easily stopped. "A thousand Assamese people armed with deadly weapons are beating drums and have encircled Nellie where minority population is in panic, apprehending an attack" the wireless message had warned.

When officers were asked about the messages they were found giving vague answers in their attempt to escape enquiries. One officer said that the message was received by his wife in his absence and another said it was on the table.

The report came to a dramatic end and the report was placed under the heap of files. It was neither raised in assembly nor was acted upon. A Delhi based research and advocacy group, Centre for Equity Studies retrieved a copy a report after filing RTI application and came out with some facts and figures.

It found that "668 FIRs were registered in relation to the violence in Nellie". However only 525 FIRs were located and rest were damaged over time due to "lack of proper storage". It was learned that charges were filled in 299 cases, and the remaining were summarily closed. After the Assam Accord was signed in 1985, the Government of Assam petitioned to withdraw cases under section 321 of the CrPC, 1973, in all the trial courts that had live cases, citing lack of evidences in all of these.

Following are some recommendations from Tewary reports:
Massacre was not communal: It cannot be said that incident was communal. In some places attackers were Assamese and the victims were Bengali speaking people, both Hindus and Muslims. In other places Muslims attacked Hindus. So, giving communal colour to incidents would not be appropriate.

Bangladeshi Immigrants: There is clear distinction between the two types of migrants-those who are helpless victim of persecution and those who come in search of better economic conditions. Only the first one would be helped.

Special Status: It suggested that Assam should be granted special status like Kashmir where no real estate can be sold or acquired by any outsider.

But the failures can be easily seen by the incidents which occurred recently in Assam. Recent crisis that unfolded in Assam started by two incidents in Kokrajhar district, one that occurred on July 6 in which unidentified gunmen shot dead two Muslims and another on July 19 when, again, unidentified gunmen shot leader of the All Bodoland Minority Student's Union(ABMSU) and a leader of the All Assam Minority Student's Union(AAMSU).

Following this, on July 20, four supporters of erstwhile Bodo Liberation Tigers were mob lynched in Jaypore, a Muslim dominated village. This triggered disturbances from miscreants from both the sides and a series of killings and counter killings were started. Members of both the communities left their houses and fled to safe places. The land was left for miscreants to indulge in arson, destruction and looting. Government issued shoot and sight order and imposed curfew indefinitely. The violence did not stop here but spread all over India.

On August 8 and 9 2012 there were reports of Manipuris being attacked. There were also reports of professionals and students being beaten up by Muslims in Pune's Kondhwa and Poona college areas. These attacks triggered panics among north eastern students and north eastern people working there. People started getting threats asking them to vacate their places else they will be attacked after Ramzan.
On August 11,2012, a protest was carried out against riots in Assam at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. This protest was organised by Raza Academy . Violence broke out during the protest and police and media vans were torched. Many people and policemen were injured. Provocative speech is said to be the reason of violence. Protesters showed provocative pictures of Assam violence that led to the violence. The incidents in Assam, Pune and Mumbai spread north eastern people in all over country. They started fleeing to Assam from all over the country. North eastern people alleged that they received SMS and MMS threats that if they did not leave for their hometowns before 20th August that was Ramzan, they would be killed.

The railways saw overcrowded trains as people were in hurry to rush back to their respective hometowns. There were reports that persons were killed on their way to their hometowns.
Assam government drew criticism for the delay in deployment of the Army. Government claimed that his government had asked for immediate help of Army from centre but the help delayed. Had the Army arrived earlier, the situation would have been different, many lives could have been saved. Assam government said that it had requested centre not to reduce the strength of Central forces but centre reduced it and deployed it somewhere else. The Central forces could have helped to minimise the damage that was caused.

The Assam government has denied several times that there are issues of infiltration in Assam but the figures shows the different story altogether.






















(source-The Indian Express) (land in bighas)
The issue of illegal migrants is not a very small one. It has been rising and still rising. It is needed to checked. This issue has been proved as a stumbling block at all the peace meetings. Bodoland People's Front Party leader Darao Narazy believes that "If the land is not cleared immediately, peace will not last in Bodoland". Indigenous population in Assam believes that their employment opportunities are hampered by these increasing immigrant population. These violent clashes are result of these only.

Institutional Racism In India

If anyone says about racism being practised in India, it will seem as an alien concept to Indian. But the story is a bit twisted in India. Racism is practised, but in an institutional manner. North-eastern are often addressed by saying 'chinki' and we find it quite casual, but for a north eastern it is not at all casual. It leaves them disturbed. A sizeable number of north-eastern people live in metropolitan cities and in major urban areas of country for education and employment. It is reported that these people face discrimination as they are addressed with derogatory adjectives and sometimes they face violence too. The sad side of racism in India is this that it is not discussed. It is not believed that racism is practised in India and no extensive literature discusses this issue. 'Racial' slur 'chinki' is persistently used by mainland India to categorise the north-eastern. It is generally used to identify them. No one believes that this is derogatory. It is so common, a very common line of argument on this is that 'chinki' is an endearing nickname in north India just like 'madrasi' is for south Indians in north India. What is the big deal in calling 'chinki'?

One needs to realise that 'chinki' is not an endearing nickname and never was. And not even calling whole 'south Indians' by a common name 'madrasi' shows any love towards them. It only symbolises 'cultural rejection'. A simple answer could be given to argument by another question, why only residing place is chosen to frame this so called endearing adjective and not anything else? Secondly, when a north-eastern is addressed by the name 'chinki' it is meant to abuse them, it carries a feeling of rejection and oppression. It shows that north-eastern people are not treated equally because they do not have equal power to respond to north Indians. North east suffers discrimination in jobs as well, they are mostly offered jobs in hospitality such as receptionist or in beauty parlour. How many north eastern people are seen in main cinema?

After the mysterious and controversial deaths of Richard Loitam in Bangalore and Dana Sangma in Gurgaon in April 2012, a debate was opened up on racism on primetime news channels. Racism was discussed as an issue prevailing in India.

One outcome of this debate was that the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) sent letter to all the states stating that all the offenders shall be booked who are guilty of atrocities against people from region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (SC/ST) Act since a significant number of persons from the north-east belong to the scheduled tribes (STs). But laws alone cannot make any difference unless until the mindset of people changes.

Solutions And Suggestions
The problems in north east is needed to be tackled very carefully with keeping the interests of indigenous population as well as helpless migrants. Here are some ideas that can be used to solve the issues. Since north east has spectacular natural beauty, it can be used as an efficient source of revenue generation which will in turn increase the living standards. If tourism is encouraged people can find employment in hospitality. Second good thing that can provide people with employment opportunities are infrastructure development. Companies are daunted in investing in Assam because of the disputes. They are needed to be enticed by some tax exemption schemes and assurance of securities. Business can connect north east to whole India and to the whole world. And if Assam is connected to rest of the parts then it would certainly get the media coverage and then these disturbances will be difficult to ignore. And as long as the problems of institutional racism is concerned, it can only be corrected by correcting the mindset of general public. They need to accept north-eastern people. And if acceptance proves to be very difficult, then people need to learn to draw line between being intolerant and being violent. Filmmaker Kalpna Lajmi is making sincere efforts to bring north eastern people into main cinema and is trying to help them come out of recent chapters of violence with the help of other actors like Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and some more. This type of efforts should be encouraged. North east needs India for their support.

# The Hindu
# The Indian Express
# Economic and Political Weekly
# Frontline
# India Today
# A Preface to Racial Discourse in India (Swar Thounaojam: Economic and Political Weekly)
# Let's stop pretending there's no racism in India(Yengkhom Jilangamba: The Hindu)
# Assam's Sorrow(Sushanta Talukdar: Cover Story: Frontline)
# Riots & the bogey of Bangladeshis(Banjit Hussain: The Hindu)
# Official Websites of NEWS Channels and newspapers
[1] The Hindu(Riots & the bogey of Bangladeshis, August 8th, 2012)
[2] The Indian Express( Ahmedabad edition, State Of Inertia, Aug 8th 2012, pg-6)
[3] Frontline, Cover story, Assam's Sorrow(August 24,2012)
[4] Raza Academy is the Sunni organization of Muslims in India, it aims to promote Islamic Sufi Culture through publications and research works.
[5] Ahmedabad edition, Sept 12th, 2012, pg-6)
[6] The Indian Express(Ahmedabad, Sept 12th, 2012, pg-6)
[7] Times Of India, Ahmedabad(August 26th, 2012, pg-17)

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: dhananjaykashyap@legalserviceindia.com

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