That Violent Corridor: Assam
If the month of June 2012 was for displacement of people in the North-Eastern state of Assam due to floods, the month of July 2012 did not bring any relief but more cruelty; not by the nature but yours truly – human beings.
The reports of the ruthless visceral-mob of local goons molesting a teenage girl in Guwahati were not yet relieved and there are these reports of violent clashes pitching in the Kokrajhar region of the state, displacing the human life in greater numbers. The state of Assam is governed by the Indian National Congress and Tarun Gogoi is the head of the Government, the CM. The clash is between the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and indigenous Bodo tribe and originated in the Bodoland area (BTAD).
Assam is the part of North East India, a region that is connected with the rest of the country through a narrow stretch of land, approximately 30 Km in width, called The Siliguri Corridor. The Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the north, Nepal in the North-West and Bangladesh on the south of the corridor. Not only Assam but the other six of the Seven Sister states – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are also connected to the rest of the country only through this narrow corridor.
Hence, this piece of land is very important and highly sensitive for India.
Kokrajhar and Dhubri are the two districts in Assam that connects Siliguri Corridor with North East India. The districts of Hailakandi, Goalpara, Dhubri, Barpeta etc. consists number of illegal immigrants with their major population in Dhubri, making Kokrajhar as their next favorite. After the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) the growth of the region, especially Kokrajhar, has sky-rocketed with the help of the Central Government’s policies of deploying funds for development. The growth in development has further urged the illegal immigrants to migrate from Bangladesh to Bodoland. The control over the district of Kokrajhar will also give the illegal immigrants the out-and-out control over the Siliguri Corridor which is the means of transport of the livelihood for the people of the North Eastern States. (See map here)
This, therefore, is the main reason behind this ethnic clash in Kokrajhar & Chirang and it is highly indispensable for the Gogoi Administration to address the issue before it stretches further creating an unrest situation in the entire North Eastern region.
The mainstream media and the Hindu Rightists were quick to tag the clash as the ‘communal violence’ and further concomitant the word ‘riot’, making it more sensational and depicting the Hindu community as the victim of situation. The clash, began to be reported as the violence between the Bodo Hindus and Bengali peaking Muslims and thus, one just wondered if it is a situation that occurred in Gujarat a decade ago. The Internet-Hindus, the term demarcated for the Hindu Rightists on internet by the Deputy Editor and a prime time anchor of the news network CNN-IBN, Sagarika Ghose, were too quick to trend #AssamRiots on the micro blogging site Twitter and it is still trending.
However, as the media earnestly focused their lenses on the clash it is now being reported as the ‘ethnic-riot’ and not that the communal. One has to agree that the violent clashes cannot be justified irrespective of the reason behind the en-flame, region, and religion and that the administration is expected to control such clashes at the earliest, preventing the loss of life and property. The Gogoi administration was expected to act more effectively earlier than just taking the responsibility later.
Also, it is vital to remark here that the state of Assam has a violent past and the issue is complex. Today the clash might be between the Bodo tribe and the illegal immigrants; however, typically the basic issue has always been between the Bodos and non-Bodos which include anyone else from any community and religion. Also, another intricacy is that the Indian Bengali speaking Muslims are also generalized to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh due to the similarities between their language, culture and religion – making it difficult for the administrations to asses who really are illegal immigrants.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that how different is the ‘ethnic clash’ in Assam from the ‘communal riots’ that sadly occurred in different parts of the country in the darkest past.
The clash at present is due to the tribal issue and not a communal issue between two religious communities in India as is (was) being projected by the section of media and Rightist politicos, to score brownie points over the ruling political party in Assam and at the Centre.
Also, as reported by the Times of India, this ethnic clash has no bar over any specific community and therefore it is the time for all of us, Indians, from diversified communities and backgrounds to come together and not point fingers at our own-selves under (any)-Rightist political influence.
This piece first appeared on GauravPandhi.wordpress.com
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