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The North East Imbroglio
|by Ananya S Guha|
I was reading an article by a veteran and seasoned columnist about the fall out of the Assam violence and its deeper portentous implications, especially the threats in South India to residents of North East India there. He has pointed out that one implied message is: that the people of North East India are not 'wanted' by the rest of the country. While this could be true to some extent, it is a generalization, which if it is taken seriously could do more harm than any dispassionate thought process regarding the crisis.
Let us take stock of what has been happening. Students from North East India were beaten up in places like Pune, subsequently threat messages were sent to them in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and other places. Here there were two types of SMS leading to a fear psychosis. One was direct threats asking students and professionals to leave. The other was texts from friends and well wishers who were panic stricken, saying that there would be reprisals. Both led to the fear, the second was rumour, the first actually happened. The rumour could have been based on the threat messages.
Now some people have been nabbed and Pakistani links are being established. True these happenings will lead to more alienation, with the alienation factor already being embedded in the psyche of the people of North East India. But to say that they may ask for secession is stretching things too far, the base for separatism has already been laid by some ultra groups. But mind you, as I pointed out, some groups like the Bodos and the Garos are asking for more autonomy and a separate state like the Gorkhas and Kamtapuris in West Bengal.
Secondly let us look at the role of the BJP and the RSS. Both are Muslim baiters, and both have seized this opportunity to launch virulent attacks against them, with the latter posing as the saviour of the people of North East, promising to physically protect them in cities like Bangalore. This is uncalled for, and is very much of dubious intent. I am skeptical of such new found love, which arises out of hatred for Muslims. It negates the positive, and reiterates the presence of inveterate anti Muslim feelings. I have reiterated that in the past such internecine bloody conflicts have taken place against Assamese Hindus, Bengali Hindus and Adivasis. So this is not an explicit example of anti Muslim antagonism, it is due to land grabbing and land possession and the fight is with the immediate neighbour. It happens that in this case, in the context of the recent conflagration the animosity has been towards the 'illegal' immigrant.
The sources of conflict in the past have been the 'others' as well. Next the possibility of Chinese intervention as pointed out by the author is something which we can only speculate, and perhaps do well not to discuss such issues now, especially in the context of what has been happening in Arunachal Pradesh with China egregiously claiming portions of it. But the good sign is the student leaders of the state have vehemently opposed Chinese claims. Matters have become very sensitive in the North East now, let us not fall back upon apocrypha. Let us also remember that apart from the immigrants there is a sizeable Muslim population in Assam. Facile conclusions will do more harm, and exacerbate tensions.
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08/21/2012 08:42 AM
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