The final list of NRC published on 31st August, 2019 is a culmination of a long drawn process that can be traced back to the state politics of Assam in the pre independence period. The state’s history is marked by incidents which continue to shape the politics of the state. Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty’s book Assam: The Accord, the Discord tries to do exactly this – revisit the roots of the problems and understand when the seeds of discord were sown.
Author: Parvin Sultana
Parvin Sultana hails from Dhubri and is currently working as an Assistant Professor in P B College in Gauripur, Assam. Her research interests include gender, Muslim politics and migration
Kulsuma Begum’s son was evicted even before he was born. On 2nd, 4th and 8th March Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council carried an eviction drive at Sarkebasti at the border of East Karbi Anglong and Hojai districts. Eviction was carried out at Sarkebasti’s Bahadur Bazaar, Islampur, Choudhury School Block, Ambari etc. Almost 580 families were evicted and 2700 people rendered homeless. And Kulsuma Begum was one of them.Heavily pregnant, Kulsuma was dragged out of her home and physically assaulted. She was left out in the open bleeding. Kulsuma Begum went into labour after being hit by police and gave birth to her son in an open field.
Deep Choudhury’s debut venture Alifa is a story of a family’s struggle languishing in the margins. Young Alifa and her family lives in a hill overseeing the sprawling city of Guwahati. Her parents Ali and Fatima played by seasoned actors Baharul Islam and Jaya Seal work as daily wage labourers while she and her younger brother Faizal stay home or roam around in the wilderness. They go to the maktab and are waiting for a school to open in the vicinity to resume education. This family like many others living in the hill comprises of Muslims of East Bengal origin or ‘Miya’ Muslims. Hailing from Barpeta, they have lost their home and hearth to the Beki, a tributary of Brahmaputra.
“Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, speaking at a conference on Northeast made a few statements which did not go down well with many. At the conference “ North East Region of India—Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders” held in New Delhi’s DRDO Bhavan, the Army Chief commented that the region is bound to see migration which is being accentuated by India’s northern and western neighbours to destabilize the region and carry on a proxy war. And this is reflected in the growth of a party like All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) which grew much faster compared to parties like BJP and which allegedly enjoys the support of ‘illegal’ immigrants.”
Just like the people in Amchang, the people in Sipajhar were also victims of river erosion. Their earlier generations moved from places like Jonia in Barpeta to escape poverty and river erosion. These people were further tricked into buying government land from the locals of Kuruwa. But there was no investigation on the multiple level of exploitation that these people faced. Merely accusing them of being illegal immigrants somehow provided impunity to those who torched their homes. Not a single person was brought to book for taking law in their own hands. One must ask if these are illegal immigrants, why weren’t they sent to detention camps for gradual deportation?
While village after village was being lost to the mighty Brahmaputra, officials in Delhi were more concerned with the man made flood in Gurugram – a result of just bad unplanned urbanization. Dirty sewage water reaching the affluent and the expatriates are definitely Prime Time news worthy unlike the flood in Assam which is seen as a part of life of the people languishing in tents and relief camps.
“As kids we would go in a big group every night and watch jatra,” quips my maternal uncle. Then he launches into telling me about how jatras or Bengali folk theatre used to be the main attraction in Raas melas.
This election verdict shows a paradigmatic shift in how Assamese society views the ‘Other’ and it is bound to have long term ramifications. AGP which claims to represent the interest of all indigenous communities of Assam went quiet on the differential treatment of Hindu Bangladeshis. Indigeneity came to be defined by ethnic as well as religious identity. BJP’s permutation and combination led to such a situation where Muslims of East Bengal origin found themselves pitted against all other. In times to come it is to be seen how such narrow formulation of identity overdetermined by religion plays out in a state which has seen many fits of violence on this very issue. And how regional parties grapple with such formulations will go a long way deciding the future politics of the state.
The marginalized of Northeast will be more comfortable in standing up with the Dalits, minorities, LGBT and other excluded communities rather than chest thumping self acclaimed deshbhakts
I was a Muslim woman who hailed from a Northeastern state, but I knew I was more than that also.
ISIS fuels Islamophobia and leads to alienation of Muslims in many countries. As a result ISIS also capitalizes on the alienation of these disillusioned Muslims and easily recruits them.
How BJP and Hindutva fanatics use food for their politics of hate?
Parvin Sultana examines the politics behind giving citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus and asks what it means for Assam