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Pitfalls of The Assam Tragedy
|by Ananya S Guha|
I have been reading articles on the fall out on the violence in Assam. These are disconcerting, because they all unequivocally reflect the unilateral fears of the North East Region, fears of being swamped by outside alien forces, fears that they will lose their land with the attendant pitfalls of losing their identity and culture. Land also, is an integral part of the culture.
These fears have been expressed for the last three decades or so. After the people of Assam, now it is the people of Meghalaya and Nagaland who want such fears to be ameliorated.
Now let us look at the situation clearly and with transparency. The people feel threatened of their hegemonic rights, they feel insecure because of the fear of being uprooted and dispossessed. These are fears, and fears are a build up, a climax of threat. They need to be assuaged, they need to be understood. Seeing the point of view is an important and sensitive realization. Pooh pooing the fears will only lead to alienation, and a feeling that the indigenous rights of the people of North East India are damned and not cared for. This is a dangerous sign, symptomatic of protests, and further feelings of neglect and separation.
Let us try and understand this point of view. Now, the Bodo leaders are again asking for a separate state, maintaining that BTAD is not enough, as powers are limited. The people of North East India are united on the repercussions of the 'alien outsider' problematic. It is not hatred that they express, what they do are their xenophobia, on the basis not so much of religion, but on the historical premise of language, culture and land. This historical premise cannot be argued against, because the Bodos are among the first to inhabit Assam, and also assimilate with the 'larger' Assamese ethos.
Secondly the people of Meghalaya and Nagaland are also bearing the brunt of a steady influx from across the border. The wealthy and the favoured bring these people across, because of cheap labour, thus creating class divisions, in societies which are becoming more classed, as opposed to the earlier declassed societies. The hierarchy of a society, and plutocracy are spiralling. The more hierarchical the structure is, the more monolithic it grows, the more there will be the haves and have not divide. An hitherto egalitarian society is become class conscious on the bases of pelf, money and power.
So what do we do? Just pay lip commiseration? That may help, but only temporarily. Mind you at the same time there are militant, read extremist undercurrents in these states. Nagaland at present experiences an uneasy calm- a disturbing disquiet. In Meghalaya in the Khasi hills there are signs of an insurgency revival, and Garo Hills has already become a hotbed of militant unrest.
The Central and State Governments of all the states of this region, must sit across parleys and bring out immediate actions to alleviate the fears of the people. They are the representatives of the people, they have to counter the reproof that such immigrants are brought by them, vicariously or otherwise to swell their vote banks. The onus is clearly on them, evasive, shifty solutions won't satisfy the recalcitrance that is building up bitterly.
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08/15/2012 00:24 AM