The imposition of homogeneity by a dominant group results in implicit and explicit violence on any form of identity. But before proceeding further, as a backdrop to this piece, we would like to cite an anecdote that occurred around two and a half years back. This was at a conference which was focusing on the ‘Northeast’ of India. In one of the presentation, an Assamese upper-caste female anthropologist dressed in a Mekhela-Chador went on to accuse the presenter of not being informed about the ‘real’ ‘Assamese’ woman. According to her, this ‘real’ ‘Assamese’ woman is defined by her ‘real’ dress and that it is the only way in which her womanhood can be defined. Of course nowhere in the presentation, it was propagated that women should give up on wearing any particular attire, including the Mekhela-Chador. But as most of us would agree, neither womanhood nor any other identity can be described in a unilateral homogenous manner. Questions of class, caste, religion, community, language, location are all intertwined to it.
An extract from Assamese novelist Dhrubajyoti Bora’s novel Kalantoror Gadya (The Prose of Tempest) (1997) written in the background of the ULFA insurgency and counter insurgency operations by Indian Security Forces in the 1990’s. It deals with the arrival of AFSPA, army operations and state terrorism in the province and the changes it brought to the local landscape.
ORIGINAL NAMAMI BRAHMAPUTRA THEME SONG finally leaked by Mr. India from Haflong
Kashmir is no longer yours
Kashmir is no longer mine
Kashmir is for those
who are alive
in the breathe of Kashmir
My roots, and house and home and forest, my village –
All that I had left behind, in the folds of lost time.
Where was it that my traces were once alive –?
Medinipur or Bankura or was it Kalahandi?