By Ashish Singh,
In the year 2014 Assam saw two notorious events that killed more than 100 people. Although there were no statements from any organization, the responsibility was put on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit fraction) by the media. The aftermath and reaction by the governments both centre as well as state, was to bring in more armed forces on ground to clean up the rebel groups. We must not forget that on the third day of violence in May 2014 NDFB(S) Secretary (Information and Publicity Wing) NE Esara denied their involvement in these acts of violence. In this situation, before getting into forming yet another conspiracy theory, we need to re-look the whole issue from a beyond-violence perspective.
The territories of Assam have been contested for decades. Be it issues of development, conservation of forests or demands for a separate/autonomous state, since pre-independence era, Assam has faced quite a few events that have pushed the state towards backwardness.
Akash Daimari, a student of Globalization and Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai says “every year flood devastates the life of the farmers residing along the bank of the river Brahmaputra, taking away the hard work of the farmer and leaving them with no food and shelter. It occurs every year in rainy season and yet each time the govt does very little or nothing for controlling the situation.” Many funds are sanctioned for flood control and rehabilitation, but these funds are sometime left untouched or used very little. The govt is slow in implementing permanent solution to the flood problem, which has not only affected the people but also the environment leading to massive soil erosion resulting in loss of farmland and forests.
UN reported that in 2014, 3.2 million Bangladeshi immigrated to Assam, without any proper legal document. The immigrants first go to Meghalaya and then come down to Assam and most of them settle in the districts of lower Assam in Dhubri. The influx has been too high in the recent time, which has caused local and indigenous people their land. This issue of immigrants is now a public secret, but the govt has been denying the existence of the immigrant. As such the govt should take the appropriate legal action to control this illegal immigrant, which is a threat to the sovereignty and national security.
In 2008 and 2012, the areas under BTAD was in raging fire of communal violence, killing many innocent life and destroying the livelihood of the people, houses were burnt down and properties looted. The impetus of the violence was the Bangladeshi immigrants who are illegally staying in Assam and in BTAD areas. The violence was not due to religious belief, but was rather to do with land issues who the Bangladesdis were using illegally, but the sad part from the politician was that, they used religious sentiment in it and turning it into religious killing. This resulted in veiling the main issue of the illegal infiltration.
There are not many central educational institutes in Assam which can provide quality education to the young generation. Education can and has the capacity of improving a community and developing it in all sphere relating to economic, political and social, Akash adds.
Charan Basumatary, who is active with All Bodo Students’ Union these days, says that districts of demanded Bodoland face problems related to basic amenities. His aunt was severely ill and their family had to suffer a lot due to the absence of good health facilities in the region.
Majority of the people in Assam are farmers and agriculture is the main source of income and livelihood. Thus, govt should focus on agriculture pro-policies to improve the livelihood of the commons. Labour intensive industries should be encouraged in Assam, which can solve the unemployment problem in Assam, which is very common among the youths.
Historically it has been seen that people start asking for a land of their own once they feel neglected, similar is the case of Bodoland. State as political entity has a nature of ruling its people. This rule is not always just and equitable, in response to which dissatisfaction takes different forms among the people. Armed resistance, rebellion and protests are some such examples of the portrayal of suppressed anger of people. India has to leave its sense of insecurity while thinking of creating a new state. Also, just on an ending note we should remind ourselves that there have been very less involvement of multilateral agencies, foreign governments and representatives of the separatists groups in the policy making for North Eastern states.
Maybe it is time when we as a democratic country start giving space to the voices of these people in our political and not-so-political spheres, but of course if we are willing to find a solution.
Ashish Singh, after finishing two masters in social sciences from different localities, is working as a freelance writer. He blogs at apbhransh.wordpress.com