The dominant narrative around the recent JNU incident has been that the unwarranted police action and the concerted acts of violence, incitement and misinformation that followed are all part of a determined push by the saffron brigade. After love jihad and beef, the story has it, it is “sedition” and “Pakistani agent” this time—we are living in a state of undeclared emergency. A sense of disbelief and apocalyptic doom seem to underpin these sentiments, along with a nostalgic optimism for a quick return to harmony and normalcy. But such things have happened far too many times, and far too often for us to harbour such illusions. For what we are going through is in effect a recalibration of that normalcy.
To read political slogans literally is an absurdity. But in the hands of the present government, it is a calculated absurdity that reads “Bharat ki barbadi…” as armed conspiracy against the state. The variables are many—arrests, fake tweets, rampaging lawyers, patriotic house-owners and now, open calls for murder. But the calculus resolves itself into the same formula every time: national/anti-national.
At the outset, the opposition to the attack on the university campus seems to have coalesced around two points—first, maintaining a safe distance from the “anti-India” slogans raised at the meeting; and second, showing themselves as the real nationalists, standing against the saffron thugs in patriot’s disguise. Partly in response to a vicious media campaign, videos of “real nationalist” speeches at the protest venue are being posted on social media everyday. We are told at length about the “real” Indian behind the deshdrohi, his credentials, and how he wants his India to be. Things reached a disturbing pitch when spokespersons of the traditional Left went on record to express their displeasure at the real culprits not being caught. Without doubt, the saffron brigade cannot be allowed the prerogative of deciding what “the nation” means. But why do so from the flimsy ramparts of sedition? Continue reading Sedition is a Shade of Grey or, Bharat Mata’s Smothering Embrace: Ankur Tamuliphukan and Gaurav Rajkhowa
Guest post by ABDUL KALAM AZAD
On 21st July, 2010 one of my close family relatives, Mydul Mullah (25) was one among the thousands of marginalized Muslims of Barpeta district who were demonstrating in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at district headquarter demanding an error-free fresh NRC (National Register of Citizens). Eventually, police brutally cracked down on the picketers and fired upon them for the ‘crime’ of exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest. After the police firing Mydul Mullah along with his three comrades Khandakar Matleb (20), Siraj Ali (27) and Majam Ali (55) succumbed to the bullet injuries. The Tarun Gogoi led Assam government was forced to suspend the faulty NRC pilot project due to unprecedented public outrage.
The question of ‘illegal migration’ from Bangladesh has been one of the most significant and emotive topics in the political milieu of Assam for almost half a century now. .
The six-year long movement (1979-1985) against illegal immigration, popularly known as the Assam Movement, spear headed by All Assam Students Union claimed itself to be a secular and nonviolent new social movement of ‘indigenous’ people to drive out the illegal immigrants. But analyses of scholars and social scientists like Prof. Hiren Gohain, Prof. Monirul Hussain, Dr. Debabrata Sarma, Diganta Sarma etc. reveal that as soon as the Assam movement accommodated right wing RSS workers into its leadership, the whole movement turned against Muslims of Bengali origin in Assam. Heinous massacres like that of Nellie, Chaolkhuwa, Nagabandha etc. were orchestrated against Muslims of Bengali origin and in broad day light thousands of people were killed. After six years of deadlock, the movement culminated in the signing of the ‘Assam Accord’ with the Government of India in 1985. The accord says that the immigrants, who came to Assam after 25th of March, 1971 will be detected and deported from Assam. One of the mandates of the accord was to update the 1951 National Register of Citizen to facilitate identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam. Continue reading Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad
Guest post by Bonojit Hussain
The fragile and unstable peace in Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) of Assam has once again been ruptured. The recent massacre of Muslims of East Bengali descent in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts of BTAD on 1st and 2nd May has already taken toll on 46 lives; with many people still missing, the dead count might go up.
This is not the first time that targeted ethnic violence has occurred in what is today BTAD. Through out the 1990’s armed Bodo groups have indulged in pogroms against Nepalis, Adivasis and Muslims and Hindus of East Bengali descent. But since the creation of BTAD in 2003, increasingly only Muslims of East Bengali descent are being targeted. Worst among all was the so-called ‘riots’ of 2012 where 108 people died. According to sources in Assam government, 79 were Muslims of East Bengali descent, 22 were Bodos and 4 were from other communities.
A lot has been written about the underlying causes of these recurring targeted killings and we need not dwell upon that here. (for an overview see Sanjib Barua, “Assam: The Politics of ElectoralViolence”, Outlook Magazine, May 09, 2014). What should bother us all is how quickly discourse over the recurring massacres in BTAD is transformed into a debate on the question of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, wherein the victims are immediately labeled as ‘illegal Bangladeshis’. Even if the victims were ‘illegal Bangladeshis’, the barbaric act of killing 46 people in a span of 36 hours is a crime against humanity. Continue reading Isn’t ‘Illegal Bangladeshi’ Racist Shorthand for Bengali Speaking Muslims in Assam? Bonojit Hussain
This is a Guest Post by PRIYANKA CHAKRABARTY
GOOD NEWS, GOOD NEWS…They are blessed with a child! Oh, what child, boy or girl? This is the most common response that new parents will encounter, one that indicates what people find most interesting about a new birth. We examine its genital parts and then say, it is a boy or girl. During this time, the difference between male and female is only the biological difference of sex, of the presence of the penis or the vagina. Gradually the child is ‘socialised’ (read normalised) into a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’.
One of the key aspects of a girl’s socialization is her introduction to the bodily process of menstruation. Superficially, and as a purely biological process, menstruation is the discharge of blood from the vagina. This is widely considered to be the ‘development’ of the female body and after the start of menstruation, a girl is believed to have attained womanhood –attained puberty. Continue reading Attitudes towards Menstruation – Notes from Assam: Priyanka Chakrabarty
Text of a statement issued by New Socialist Initiative
New Delhi; 07/05/2014
New Socialist Initiative (NSI) strongly condemns the gruesome massacre of Bengali speaking Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) in Assam, which has witnessed the resurgence of the ugly head of ethnic violence. As per latest official reports, 38 people have been killed, the majority being women and children, while several have been injured and many are missing.
On the evening of 1st May at 7.30 pm, 8 armed Bodo youths riding on 4 bicycles entered a house in Narasinghbari village in Baksa District and fired gunshots. The next day (2nd May), allegedly 40 Bodo militants surrounded 77 houses in Narayanguri village in the same district and fired indiscriminately. Until now 30 dead bodies have been found. According to district administration 15 people are still missing, among them 12 children and 3 women. Simultaneously, in Balapara village in Kokrajhar district at around 12.30 am on 2nd May, armed Bodo youths killed 8 people. The survivors in Baksa district told that the death toll will substantially increase as the militants killed and threw the dead bodies into the Beki River that flows through the area. Continue reading Condemn the Gruesome Massacre in Bodoland (Assam) : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)
इशरत जहाँ एक उन्नीस साल की लड़की थी जब वह मारी गई.शायद उसके बारे में इसके अलावा इस निश्चितता के साथ हम कुछ और कभी नहीं जान पाएंगे. इसकी वजह सिर्फ यह है कि जिन्हें इस देश में सच का पता लगाने का काम दिया गया है वे एक लंबे अरसे से झूठ को सच की तरह पेश करने का आसान रास्ता चुनने के आदी हो गए हैं. उनके इस मिथ्याचार पर कभी सवाल न खड़ा किया जा सके इसका सबसे अच्छा तरीका है राष्ट्र रक्षक की अपनी छवि का दुरुपयोग निस्संकोच करना. जो राष्ट्र की रक्षा करता है उसे उसकी रक्षा के लिए किसी को मात्र संदेह के आधार पर मार डालने का हक है, यह हमारे देश का सहज बोध है. सिर्फ अशिक्षितों का नहीं, उसने कहीं ज़्यादा राजनीति शास्त्र की किताबों से नागरिक अधिकारों का ज्ञान प्राप्त किए हुए स्नातकों का. उन सबका जिन्हें देश की जनता के पैसे से संविधान की हिफ़ाजत के लिए अलग-अलग काम सौंपे जाते हैं. और भी साफ़ कर लें, इन स्नातकों में भी उनका जो प्रशासनिक और पुलिस अधिकारी हैं, जासूसी के अलग-अलग महकमों से जुड़े ऑफिसर हैं, जिनकी असली पहचान कभी उजागर नहीं हो पाती. अगर दूसरे मुल्क में वे पकड़े जाएं तो वही देश उनसे हाथ धो लेता है जिसकी सुरक्षा में वे अपनी असली पहचान छिपाए फिरते हैं.
क्या कोई यह कहने की हिमाकत कर सकता है कि राष्ट्र-राज्य के खिलाफ साजिशें नहीं होतीं, कि राष्ट्र-विरोधी शक्तियों का अस्तित्व ही नहीं! यह बिलकुल अलग बात है कि राष्ट्र विरोधी का बिल्ला किन पर आसानी चस्पां किया जा सकता है और किन पर वह बिलकुल चिपकता ही नहीं. मसलन, इस्लामी राष्ट्र का तस्सवुर धर्मनिरपेक्ष भारतीय राष्ट्र के बिलकुल खिलाफ है, क्या इसके लिए किसी अतिरिक्त व्याख्या की आवश्यकता है? लेकिन यह समझना और समझाना टेढ़ी खीर है कि हिन्दू राष्ट्र की कल्पना भी उतनी ही राष्ट्रविरोधी है! आज से बीस साल पहले और आज भी खालिस्तान का ख़याल इस्लामी राष्ट्र जितना ही राष्ट्र विरोधी माना जाता था. Continue reading आत्मा से मुठभेड़ की चुनौती: अपूर्वानंद
The Times of India reports that Nilim Dutta has been arrested by the police in Assam on charges of financial fraud and impersonation. The Indian Express reports:
“While there are now six cases registered against him in Guwahati, what we have gathered is that the Delhi Police had also registered a case against him last year,” Assam DGP J N Choudhury told The Indian Express. [Link]
Dutta announced his own arrest on Twitter some days ago, claiming the police had assaulted his family and him, and so on.
I first discovered Nilim Dutta on Twitter in July or August last year. Bodo groups in Kokrajhar and other BTAD area of Assam had killed Muslims and driven them out, many of whom still live in refugee camps there, too afraid to go home. Intellectual cover to this pogrom was being given not only by the mainstream media but also in social media by Hindutva fanatics, with the excuse that all Mulims in Assam are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Dutta had been tweeting against this claim, and published a rebuttal to one such claim by a Bodo IAS officer in the Indian Express.
I thus invited Dutta to write a long piece for Kafila, which was published here on 16 August. “The Myth of the Bangladeshi” became a very popular piece, initiating many discusssions and disagreements in Assam, Delhi and elsewhere. Hindutva fanatics who were unsettled by Dutta’s excellent piece in Kafila and similar pieces elsewhere, and his appearance in TV channels and so on. Now that Dutta is arrested on charges of financial fraud, these people are saying on Twitter and elsewhere that this nullifies Dutta’s claims about Muslims/’Bangladeshis’ in Assam. Continue reading On the arrest of Nilim Dutta