Human Rights

NRC Updation and recent Political Development in Assam

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I am following the ongoing NRC (National Register of Citizen) updation process not only because of its long term political implications in the state; but also, it is emotionally very close to me. On July 21, 2010 my nephew Mydul Mullah (25) was one among the lakhs of marginalized Muslims of Barpeta district who were demonstrating in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at district headquarter demanding error free fresh NRC. Eventually, police brutally cracked down on the picketers, police fired upon the democratically demonstrating people without any provocation. Mydul Mullah along with his three comrades Khandakar Matleb (20), Siraj Ali (27) and Majam Ali (55) were killed in police firing. Tarun Gogoi government was forced to suspend the faulty NRC pilot project due unprecedented public outrage.

The illegal migration issue has been one of the most significant topics in the political atmosphere of Assam since 30s of last century. Six years long Assam Movement was claimed to be a secular, nonviolent new social movement to drive out the illegal foreigners. But the analysis of scholars and social scientist reveal that as soon as the Assam movement accommodated right wing RSS workers into its leadership, the whole movement turned against the Bengal origin Muslims of the state. Most brutal massacres like Nellie, Chaolkhuwa, Nagabandha etc were put into action, in broad day light thousands of people were killed. After six years of deadlock, the movement culminated through signing off ‘Assam Accord’ in 1985. The accord says that the immigrants, who came to Assam after 25th of March, 1971 will be detected and deported from Assam. Updating the 1951 National Register of Citizen was one of the mandates of the accord to identify the so called large scale migrants in Assam. Subsequent political history is known to every once, the agitators took over the state power. Newly formed Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) ruled the state for 10 long years but couldn’t identify large scale Bangladeshi, they miserably failed to implement the accord.

After nearly three decades, now the NRC updation process is progressing under direct supervision of honorable Supreme Court of India. The community which is being branded as illegal Bangladeshi cordially welcomed the process. It is really a matter of delight that most of the civil society organizations and community leaders belonging to Bengal origin Muslims are wholeheartedly working to make the NRC the updation process successful. Many of them are working day and night to create awareness among the masses. The community leaders are organizing hundreds of meetings and workshops to educate people about the nuances of NRC updation process even without any support from the government. It seems that the community which has been always branded as illegal Bangladeshi immigrant has pledged to end the shame for once and all at any cost.

But the self proclaimed custodians of Assamese nationalism, who were suffering from so called identity crisis, soon realized that the NRC updation will eventually dry up the prospects of being professional protester. Some of the organization already approached the apex court demanding amendment of Citizenship Act and to stop the ongoing NRC updation process. On the other hand the both print and electronic media have started propagating against the process. On every other day they are publishing opinion and editorials questioning the NRC updation process. The leading English newspaper of Assam ‘The Assam Tribune’ published an article “The migration imbroglio and NE” which directly propagates that the ongoing NRC updation will legitimize the illegal Bangaldeshi as Indian nationals! Veteran journalist Dhirendra Nath Chakravarty, a known right wing admirer, said that Bengal origin Muslims can be Indian but not Assamese. He didn’t even hesitate to suggest seceding of certain Muslim dominated area from Assam. Though historically, Bengal origin Muslims have officially adopted Assamese as their mother tongue way back in 1951 and have been working to promote and preserve Assamese language since 19th century. During language movement and medium movement in Assam, the community fought for Assamese language and succeeded. Without their support, Assamese language would have been a language of minority in Assam.

Secondly, right wing groups continued their effort to polarize the Assamese society in religious line to halt the NRC updation process. Communal hate mongers like Prabin Togaria and Subramanian Swami started spreading venom in Assam. Swami in his consecutive two visits to Assam gave controversial statements which are enough to incite communal tension. Once he asked the Bangladeshi Muslims to accept Hinduism if they want to stay in Assam and on another occasion he suggested to destroy the mosque. But Assamese society outrageously rejected those statements.

When these attempts miserably failed to serve their purpose, they find out another way to create a political storm in the state which is going to poll next year. They found speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly Mr. Pranab Gogoi as messiah of indigenous Assamese people who are facing so called threat of being minority in their own state. It is worthy to mention here that in one of my earlier article I have mentioned his perception about the Muslims of Assam as well as his respect towards democratic values and ethics. When a group of MLAs from main opposition party asked the government to clear its stand on the issues of rehabilitating thousands of conflict induced internally displaced persons of lower Assam, who are living in relief camps for more than two decades, Mr. Gogoi compared the legislators with crow and expelled them from the house. This time also, violating the parliamentary norms he initiated a discussion at his individual capacity with the civil society groups of the state to come up with a definition of ‘Assamese’.

The question arises, why the definition of Assamese is required when NRC updation process is undergoing under direct supervision of honorable Supreme Court of India? The clause six of Assam Accord talks of providing constitutional safeguard to the Assamese people. This is a known fact that Assam as a state has been deprived by the central government throughout the post colonial history. The natural resources of the state have been harshly exploited by the central government. The development data says that in post colonial era Assam is on downward spiral. Hence, Assamese people need extra attention and constitutional safeguard. This safeguard or positive discrimination described in the accord is obviously meant for the Assamese people not for the outsiders for foreigners. And the accord also says that the person, who immigrated to Assam after 25th March, 1971 will be detected and deported. It is important to clarify here that the accord didn’t talk about providing constitutional safeguard to ‘indigenous Assamese people’ but to ‘Assamese people’, which includes all the communities irrespective of caste, creed, language or origin except those who entered the state illegally after 25th of March, 1971. As per the provisions of the accord honorable Supreme Court of India has given directive to the state government to prepare the modalities to update the NRC. It is now clear that this orchestrated debate over definition of Assamese is an attempt to nullify the importance of a fresh updated NRC to solve the long standing illegal migrant issue of Assam. This is also an attempt to vilify the Assam accord which is the result of six years long agitation and at the cost of thousands of innocent lives including the victims of infamous Nellie massacre.

We will conclude our discussion by analyzing the definition provided by speaker Pranab Gogoi and its political implications. Mr. Gogoi said in his report that he has held discussion with civil society organizations including CSOs belong to Bengal origin Muslim community. He defined indigenous Assamese people by taking 1951 as the base year. However, his definition goes against the basic tenets of Assam Accord, as the accord didn’t incorporated the term ‘indigenous’ while prescribing constitutional safeguard for the Assamese People. Secondly, Mr. Gogoi couldn’t address the questions raised by many organizations which strongly oppose his divisive definition of ‘Assamese’. There are some practical problems with this definition – i) Assam government has informed the assembly on record that the 1951 NRC is not available for all the districts of Assam, some of the districts have partially. Census report says that in 1951 census many areas were not included in the census due to poor transportation and connectivity. Moreover, it is almost impossible to retrieve any other supporting documents like school certificate, land records, employment etc considering the socio-economic conditions of that era. ii) As per government record 53000 Muslim families fled to the than East Pakistan in 1950 due to communal violence in Assam, out of which 41000 came back under Nehru-Liyaqat pact. Naturally, those families are not figured in 1951 NRC as well as 1951 census. Hence, speaker Pranab Gogoi’s definition is impractical ab initio.

The pick moment of this orchestrated drama was very interesting to follow. Mr. Gogoi read his report before the house in the state assembly and intended to submit it to the government officially and asked the government to implement his definition to provide constitutional safeguard. The ruling Congress party rejected his definition and the government refused to receive the report at his official capacity, as it doesn’t come under the ambit of speaker’s role, whereas BJP MLAs supported the speaker. Later on Mr. Gogoi submitted the report to the government on his individual capacity. The analysts read the development as a golden opportunity for the speaker to get closure to BJP as he has developed a bad blood with the chief minister Tarun Gogoi as well as other members of the cabinet. One of the minister openly said before the media that a section with vested interest has already started pressurizing the government to halt the NRC updation process.

This time Bengal origin Muslims are really working hard to get rid of the menace called illegal Bangladeshi immigrant. On the other hand, those individuals and organizations which have been shouting for decades demanding NRC updation are now opposing it.  However, role of the state government is also not beyond doubt. Why it didn’t take step to stop this divisive project by speaker? Why chief minister Tarun Gogoi is not taking action against him? Meanwhile, Supreme Court of India has slammed the state government for submitting poor affidavit on the progress of NRC updation work.

প্ৰব্ৰজন অপৰাধ নে অধিকাৰ?

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[যোৱা সংখ্যাৰ লিখনিত আমি প্ৰতিশ্ৰুতি দিছিলো যে, বাংলাদেশত বসবাস কৰা হিন্দু তথা অন্ন্যান্য সংখ্যালঘু ধৰ্মালম্বী ব্যক্তি সকলৰ সাম্প্ৰতিক আৰ্থ-সামাজিক তথা ৰাজনৈতিক অৱস্থাৰ বিষয়ে আমাৰ ভ্ৰমনকালত লাভকৰা অভিজ্ঞতাৰ ওপৰত ভিত্তি কৰি এটি আলোচনা আগবঢ়াম৷ “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”ৰ লিখক মহচিন হামিদে তেওঁৰ শেহতীয়া The Guardian কাকতৰ কলামত লিখিছে “মই প্ৰব্ৰজনক এক মানৱাধিকাৰ হিচাপে বিশ্বাস কৰোঁ, মত প্ৰকাশৰ অধিকাৰ বা জাতি, ধৰ্ম, লিংগ বা যৌন বৈষম্য বিৰোধী অধিকাৰৰ দৰেই মৌলিক এই অধিকাৰ”৷ তেওঁ আৰু লিখিছে যে, আমি সকলোয়ে ঐতিহাসিকভাৱে প্ৰব্ৰজনকাৰী আমাৰ পূৰ্বপুৰুষ বেলেগ কোনোবা ঠাইৰ পৰাই প্ৰব্ৰজিত হৈছিল৷ আগন্তক দিনত, জলবায়ু পৰিবর্তন, ৰোগ, ৰাষ্ট্রৰ ব্যর্থতা, যুদ্ধ আদিৰ ফলশ্ৰুতিত লাখ লাখ হয়তো কোটি কোটি মানুহ এটা দেশ এৰি বেলেগ দেশত আশ্ৰয় ল’বলৈ বাধ্য হ’ব, প্ৰব্ৰজনৰ পূৰ্বৰ সকলো পৰিসংখ্যাই এই প্ৰব্ৰজনৰ আগত ম্লান পৰি ৰ’ব৷ যদি আমি তেওঁলোকৰ প্ৰব্ৰজিত হোৱাৰ অধিকাৰক স্বীকৃতি নিদিওঁ, তেতিয়াহলে আমি এনে এক বৈষম্যমূলক পৃথিৱী সৃষ্ট্ৰি কৰিব গৈ আছো য’ত পাৰপত্ৰবোৰে আমাৰ ‘জাতি’ আৰু সদাবৃদ্ধিপ্ৰাপ্ত বল প্ৰয়োগেৰে আমাৰ পৰা আনুগত্য আদায় কৰাৰ চেষ্টা কৰা হ’ব৷ মহচিন হামিদৰ এই আশাংকা আমাৰ অসম মুলুকত আলোচনা কৰাটো কিমান সমিচিন হ’ব সেয়া যথেষ্ঠ সন্দেহজনক; কিন্তু আজিৰ তাৰিখত আমি এই সত্যক অগ্ৰাহ্যও কৰিব নোৱাৰো৷ অসমত আশীৰ দশকৰ পৰা প্ৰব্ৰজনৰ ওপৰত যিমান আলোচনা-পৰ্যালোচনা হৈছে, সকলোতে বাংলাদেশৰ পৰা আগত মুছলামান প্ৰব্ৰজনকাৰীৰ ওপৰতে মূলত দৃষ্টি নিবন্ধিত হৈ আছে৷ প্ৰব্ৰজনৰ মানৱিক দিশটো যেনেকৈ দৃষ্টিকটুভাৱে উপেক্ষা কৰা হৈছে, ঠিক তেনেকৈ কৌশলপূৰ্ণভাৱে হিন্দু প্ৰব্ৰজনকাৰীৰ দিশটোও এৰাই চলা হৈছে৷ বুৰঞ্জীবিধ অমলেন্দু গুহ ডাঙৰিয়াই লিখিছে যে, দেশ বিভাজনৰ পিছৰ পৰা অসমলৈ তেতিয়াৰ পূব-পাকিস্তানৰ পৰা মুছলমান প্ৰব্ৰজনকাৰীৰ আগমন প্ৰায় স্থবিৰ হৈ পৰিছিল আৰু তাৰ ঠাই দখল কৰিছিল হিন্দু প্ৰব্ৰজনকাৰীয়ে৷ কিন্তু অসমত প্ৰব্ৰজন সম্বন্ধীয় বাগধাৰাত এই দিশটো বিচাৰি পোৱা খুবেই মুস্কিল৷ আমাৰ বাংলাদেশ ভ্ৰমনকালত হিন্দু প্ৰব্ৰজনৰ কিছু ঐতিহাসিক তথা সাম্প্ৰতিক কাৰণ বিচাৰি উলিওয়াৰ চেষ্টা কৰিছিলোঁ৷]
চ্যাংৰাবান্ধা-বুড়িমাৰী সিমান্ত চেকপ’ষ্ট হৈ মই অকলে বাংলাদেশত প্ৰৱেশ কৰিছিলোঁ৷ মোৰ সহকৰ্মী তিনিজন আগদিনাই হাতীবান্ধাত উপস্থিত হৈছিল৷ বুড়িমাৰীৰ বাংলাদেশী চেকপ’ষ্টৰ পৰা যাৱতীয় আানুষ্ঠানিকতা সম্পূৰ্ণ কৰি ৰাতিপুৱা প্ৰায় ১১ বজাত মানৱচালিত ভ্যান এখনত উঠি ৰেল ষ্টেচন অভিমুখে যাত্ৰা কৰিলোঁ৷ আকাশ, বতাহ, মানুহৰ অৱয়ভ, এনেকি বুড়িমাৰী স্থলবন্দৰৰ ঘোচষোৰ বিষয়াজনৰ লোলোপ দৃষ্টি; ক’তো একো অমিল প্ৰত্যক্ষ্য নকৰিলো৷ অজানিতে ভূপেনদাৰ কালজয়ী গীতৰ কলি মনত পৰি গ’ল “গংগা মোৰ মা, পদ্মাও মা…………. মোৰ চকুলোৰে দুটি ধাৰা মেঘনা যমুনা” ভ্যানখনত মোৰ লগত এজনী আধা-বয়সীয়া ভদ্ৰ মহিলা৷ আমি একেলগে সিমান্ত পাৰ হৈ আহিছিলো৷ গুৱাহাটীৰ শ্বহিদুল ককাইক জৰুৰী ফোন এটি কৰিবলগা আছিল; সহযাত্ৰীৰ লগত পৰিচয় হোৱাতকৈ বেছি জৰুৰী৷ সিমান্ত পাৰহৈ প্ৰায় এক কিলোমিটাৰলৈকে ভাৰতীয় ম’বাইলৰ সেৱা উপলব্ধ হয়৷ ফোনৰ বাৰ্তালাপ শেষ কৰি মহিলাজনীৰ লগত সৌজন্যমূলক দৃষ্টি বিনিময় কৰিলো৷ মোক সুধিলে “অসমৰ পৰা আহিলে?” বিশেষ একো কথা পতাৰ আগতেই ভ্যান চালকে জনালে যে, নিৰ্ধাৰিত ৰেল-গাড়ীখন ইতিমধ্যে এৰি দিলে৷ আমাক বেলেগ গাড়ীৰে পাটগ্ৰামলৈ গৈ বাছ ধৰিব পৰামৰ্শ দিলে৷ কোনো দিনে ভ্যানগাড়ীত যাত্ৰা কৰাৰ অভিজ্ঞতা মোৰ নাছিল৷ ভ্যানৰ পৰা নামিব গৈ অঘটনে ঘটি গ’ল৷ হাতত থকা গধুৰ মোনাটোলৈ মহিলাজনীৰ লগত একেলগে নামিব যাওঁতে ভ্যানৰ ভাৰসাম্যত বিচ্যুতি ঘটিল৷ পিছফালে সমস্থ ওজন একেলগে পৰাত বেচেৰা ক্ষীনকায় ভ্যানচালক দাং খাই শূন্যত উলমি থাকিল! অগত্যা ক্ষমা খুজাৰ বাহিৰে মোৰ গতন্তৰ নাছিল৷
বিকট হুইছেল বজাই এটা ই-ৰিক্সা আমাৰ ওচৰতে আহি ৰখিল৷ ভাৰা বন্ধোবস্থ কৰি আমি এই বাৰ বেটাৰীচালিত ই-ৰিক্সাত উঠিলোঁ৷ কিছুদিন আগতে আমাৰ দেশৰ উচ্চতম ন্যায়ালয়ে এক নিৰ্দেশযোগে দিল্লীত ই-ৰিক্সাৰ চলাচল নিষিদ্ধ কৰিছিল৷ বাংলাদেশী ই-ৰিক্সা চাকলেও চৰকাৰী পঞ্জীয়নৰ বাবে সংগ্ৰাম কৰিব লগা হৈছে৷ বুড়িমাৰীৰ পৰা পাটগ্ৰামলৈ যোৱা ৰাস্তাত ই-ৰিক্সাচালক সন্থাৰ পোষ্টাৰবোৰে তাকে সূচাইছিল৷ সেয়া যিকিয়ে নহওক৷ আমি মূল আলোচনালৈ আহো৷ আমাৰ লগত এইবাৰ আৰু এজন সহযাত্ৰী যোগ দিলে৷ মহিলাজনীতকৈ মানুহজন বয়সত হয়তো দুই এবছৰৰ বেছি হ’ব৷ মানুহজন মোৰ মুখমুখিকৈ বহিছে আৰু মহিলাজনী মোৰ কাষত৷ মসৃন পকী ৰাস্তা, ই-ৰিক্সাৰ ইঞ্জিনৰো কোনো বিষেশ শব্দ নাই, বতাহৰ ফিৰফিৰনি আৰু মাজে মাজে বিকট হুইছেলটো৷ আমি পৰিচয় হ’লো৷ আমি তিনিও ভাৰতৰ পৰা আহি বাংলাদেশত প্ৰৱেশ কৰিছিলোঁ৷ বাংলাদেশ তেওঁলোকৰ জন্মভুমি৷ কিন্তু ভাৰতো তেওঁলোকৰ বাবে কোনোগুনে কম গুৰুত্বৰ নহয়৷ আধা-বয়সীয়া অধিকাৰী উপাধীদাৰী ভদ্ৰমহিলাৰ ভাৰতৰ সৈতে এক নিভিড় সম্পৰ্ক আছে৷ নিজৰ বৰকন্যাৰ স্বামীগৃহ ভাৰতৰ পশ্চিমবঙ্গৰ জলপাইগুৰি জিলাত৷ উচ্চমাধ্যমিকৰ পৰিক্ষা দি উঠি ছোৱালীজনী ভাৰতত থকা আত্মীয়ৰ ঘৰত ফুৰিব গৈছিল৷ তাতে ভাৰতীয় যুৱকৰ লগত প্ৰেম ৷ এৰা প্ৰেমে নিচিনে ঋষি-চন্ডাল; ছোৱালীজনীয়ে মনৰ মানুহজন সিমান্তৰ সিপাৰেহে বিচাৰি পালে৷ অধিকাৰী পৰিয়ালে বাধা নিদিলে বৰঞ্চ ধুম-ধামৰে ছোৱালীৰ বিয়া পাতি দিলে৷ ভাৰতীয় জোৱাই বা বিয়ৈ-বিয়নি লৈ তেখেত ক্ষান্ত থকা নাই৷ নিজৰ বৰপুত্ৰ পশ্চিমবঙ্গৰ কল্যানী বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ৰ গৱেষনাৰ ছাত্ৰ৷ আচলতে, ভাৰতৰ স’তে তেওঁলোকৰ সম্পৰ্ক দীৰ্ঘদিনিয়া৷ ভাইশশুৰ নৰেন্দ্ৰ দুলাল অধিকাৰী নামনি অসমৰ এটি ঐতিহ্যমন্ডিত মহাবিদ্যালয়ৰ গণিত বিভাগৰ মূৰব্বী অধ্যাপকৰ গুৰু দায়িত্ব পালন কৰি অৱসৰ গ্ৰহণ কৰিছে৷ কিন্তু ভাৰতৰ স’তে থকা তেখেতৰ সকলো সম্পৰ্কই মধুৰ নহয়৷ নিজৰ সম্পৰ্কীয় দেওঁৰেকে চিকিৎসা বিজ্ঞানৰ ডিগ্ৰী লাভ কৰাৰ পিছত বাংলাদেশ অসামৰিক সেৱাৰ পৰিক্ষাত স্থান লাভ কৰিও ধৰ্মীয় বৈষম্যতাৰ বাবে মৌখিক পৰিক্ষাত উত্তীৰ্ণ হ’ব পৰা নাছিল৷ আজি তেওঁ ক’লকাতাত চিকিৎসা সেৱা আগবঢ়াই টকা আৰু সন্মান দোয়োটাই ঘটি আছে৷ ই-ৰিক্সাত আমাৰ মুখামুখিকৈ বহি থকা মানুহজনে বিনা আমন্ত্ৰনে আলোচনাত ভাগ ল’লে৷ তেখেত পশ্চিমবঙ্গৰ কোচবিহাৰ জিলাৰ দিনহাটাৰ পৰা আহিল৷ তেওঁৰ দ্বিতীয় গৃহ দিনহাটাত৷ সিপাৰত থকা পৰিয়ালৰ সদস্যৰ লগত এমাহ কাল থাকি আহিল৷
বাংলাদেশৰ ভূমিত ভৰি ৰাখি প্ৰথম যি দুগৰাকী মানুহ লগ পালো, দুয়োগৰাকীৰ ভাৰতৰ লগত থকা এই অদ্ভুত সম্পৰ্কই মোক আচৰিত কৰি তুলিছিল৷ আচৰিত হোৱাৰ অন্যতম কাৰণ আছিল তেওঁলোকৰ সৰলতা৷ যিবোৰ কথা তেওঁলোকে মোক কৈ আছিল বা সঁচা অৰ্থত কৰি আছিল সেইবোৰ ভাৰত বা বাংলাদেশৰ কোনো চৰকাৰেই কেতিয়াওঁ স্বীকৃতি দিয়া নাই৷প্ৰকৃতপক্ষে সেইবোৰ শাস্তিযোগ্য আইন গৰ্হিত অপৰাধ৷ হয়, তেওঁলোকে জানে যে ভাৰতৰ লগত তেওঁলোকৰ সম্পৰ্ক বে-আইনী৷ কিন্তু তেওঁলোকে আজিওঁ বিশ্বাস কৰে যে, বাংলাদেশ হিন্দুৰ বাবে সুৰক্ষিত ঠাই নহয়৷ ৰাজনীতি নামৰ পাখাখেলত যিকোনো সময়ত তেওঁলোকক ব্যৱহাৰ কৰা হ’ব পাৰে৷ মোৰ মুখা-মুখি বহি মানুহজনে ৰাস্তাৰ কাষত থকা সু-বিস্তাৰিত সেউজীয়া ধাননী পথাৰলৈ আঙুলিয়াই কৈ গ’ল – “আজিৰ বাংলাদেশ দুখিয়াৰ দেশ নহয়৷ আমি ভাতৰ অভাৱত ভাৰতত ঘৰ সঁজা নাই৷ আজি শাঁক-পাঁচলিৰ পৰা আৰম্ভ কৰি মাছ, মাংস, গাখীৰ সকলো আমি নিজে উৎপাদন কৰো৷” মানুহজনে হঠাৎ মোক সুধিলে “আলু কিমানত কিনে আপোনালোকে?” মই বাংলাদেশলৈ যোৱাৰ আগতে হয়তো ৪০ টকাত কিনিছিলো৷ বাংলাদেশত সেই সময়ত প্ৰতি কিলোগ্ৰাম আলুৰ দাম ২৫ টাকা৷ ভাৰতীয় মুদ্ৰাত সেয়া আৰু কম হ’ব৷
নিজ মাতৃভূমিৰ গুন বখানি মানুহজনৰ চকু উজ্জল হৈ পৰিছিল৷ “ইয়াৰ পিছতো আপোনালোকে দেশ এৰি ভাৰতত কিয় ঘৰ সাঁজি আছে?” মোৰ প্ৰত্যক্ষ প্ৰশ্নত কিছু সচকিত হৈ মানুহজনে আকৌ কৈ গ’ল – এইটো সঁচা কথা যে, বাংলাদেশৰ দৰে নদন-বদন দেশ এখন এৰি বেলেগত গৈ থাকিব মন নেযায় কিন্তু ইয়াত হিন্দু সকলৰ নিৰাপত্তা নাই৷ এটা নিৰ্বাচন পাৰ কৰা মানে যেন এটা জটিল পৰিক্ষাৰ দেউনা পাৰ কৰা৷ এক বিৰাট আশাংকা ভৰা সময়৷ কোনেওঁ পূৰ্বানুমান কৰিব নোৱাৰে যে, বাংলাদেশৰ নিৰ্বাচনীৰ পৰিক্ৰমাৰ মাজেৰ হিন্দসলকৰ জীৱন আৰু সম্পতি সুকলমে পাৰ হৈ যাব পৰিবনে নাই৷ সহযাত্ৰী অধিকাৰী বাইদেউৰ মতে – উত্তৰ বংগৰ হিন্দুৰ অৱস্থা তুলনামূলক ভাৱে যথেষ্ঠ ভাল৷ যমুনাৰ সিপাৰে থকা হিন্দুৰ অৱস্থা আৰু তথৈবচ!
আমি ইতিমধ্যে পাটগ্ৰামৰ বাছ আস্থানত উপস্থিত হৈছিলো৷ ই-ৰিক্সাটো আৰু এবাৰ বিকট হুইছেল বজাই ৰখি গ’ল৷ দুয়োজনকে ধন্যবাদ জনাই বাছ আস্থানৰ টিকট ঘৰৰ পৰা হাতীবান্ধাৰ টিকট কাটি বাছত বহিলোঁ৷ যথা সময়ত বাছে যাত্ৰা আৰম্ভ কৰিলে৷ ঠেক ৰাস্তা৷ দেয়োকাষে সেউজীয়া ধাননী পথাৰ৷ পথাৰৰ মাজে মাজে শাৰী শাৰী ইউকেলিপ্টাছ গছ৷ আৰু অসংখ্য কাঠ ফলা কাৰখানা৷ কৃষি প্ৰধান দেশত ইউকেলিপ্টাছ গছ নিশ্চয় শুভ লক্ষণ নহয়৷ লগতে জলবায়ু পৰিবৰ্তনৰ প্ৰত্যাহ্বান মুকাবিলা কৰিবলৈ বাংলাদেশে যথেষ্ঠ কঠোৰ স্থিতি গ্ৰহণ কৰা উচিত ৷ যিকিয়ে নহওক, এইবাৰৰ বাছ যাত্ৰাত মোৰ সহযাত্ৰী এজন ওখ পাখ সুঠাম পঞ্চাচোৰ্ধ ব্যাক্তি৷ বাংলাদেশ যান-বাহন আৰক্ষীৰ বিষয়া৷ পিন্ধনত শুধ বগা কামিজ, মূৰত নামাজী টুপী আৰু আঁতৰৰ সুন্দৰ সুৱাসত এজন ধাৰ্মিক মুছলমান বুলি অনুমান কৰাত মোৰ অসুবিধা নহ’ল৷ এজন বাংলাদেশী হিচাপে তেওঁ যথেষ্ঠ গৰ্বিত ৷ লগতে ভাৰতৰ প্ৰতি এক বিৰাট শ্ৰদ্ধা আছে তেওঁৰ৷ ত্ৰিছ লাখ শ্বহীদ আৰু দুই লাখ নাৰীৰ সম্ভ্ৰমৰ বিনিয়মত জন্ম লাভ কৰা স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশৰ প্ৰতিজন নাগৰিকে ভাৰতৰ প্ৰতি কৃতজ্ঞ হোৱাটো তেওঁ বিচাৰে ৷ ভাৰত-বাংলাদেশ মৈত্ৰী বাহিনীৰ যৌথ কমান্ডাৰ লেফটেন্যান্ট জেনেৰেল জগজিৎ সিং অৰোৰা বীৰত্বৰ কথা অনৰ্গল কৈ গ’ল৷ বিদেশত গৈ নিজ দেশৰ সেনাবাহিনীৰ সাহসিকতাৰ কাহিনী শুনি বুকু সাতখন-আঠখন হৈ পৰিল৷
কিন্তু মোৰ এইবাৰৰ সহযাত্ৰীয়ে বাংলাদেশত কোনো সাম্প্ৰদায়িক বৈষম্য থকাৰ কথা মানি ল’ব নিবিচাৰে৷ “বাংলাদেশৰ সংবিধানে সকলোকে স্বাধীনভাৱে নিজৰ ধৰ্ম পালন কৰিবলৈ অনুমতি দিছে৷ বৰঞ্চ ভাৰততহে মুছলমানক গো-মাংস ভক্ষণ কৰাত বাধা আৰোপ কৰিছে” মই তেওঁৰ অভিযোগ খন্ডন কৰিলোঁ যদিওঁ আশ্বস্থ কৰিব নোৱাৰিলোঁ৷ তেওঁৰ মতে, বাংলাদেশৰ কিছু হিন্দুয়ে দেশখনৰ প্ৰতি আনুগত্যশীল নহয় আৰু বহুতে সময় আৰু সুযোগ লৈ চৰা দামত নিজৰ ঘৰ সম্পতি বিক্ৰী কৰি ভাৰতলৈ গৈ বাংলাদেশৰ বদনাম কৰে৷ তেওঁৰ লগত তৰ্ক কৰাৰ অভিপ্ৰায় মোৰ নাছিল৷
ইতিহাসৰ পাত লুটিয়ালে আমি দেখা পাওঁযে, দেশ বিভাজনৰ পিছত তেতিয়াৰ পূৰ্ব-পাকিস্তানৰ পৰা বৃহৎ সংখ্যক হিন্দু ভাৰতলৈ ঢাৱলি মেলিছিল৷ সাম্প্ৰদায়িক সংঘৰ্ষ আৰু ভয়-ভীতি, ভূমি বেদখল, বৈষম্য আদি আছিল কাৰণ৷ মুক্তিযুদ্ধৰ সময়ত প্ৰায় এক কোটি বঙালী ভাৰতত আশ্ৰয় লৈছিল৷ চৰকাৰী তথ্যমতে স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশৰ জন্মৰ পিছত তেওঁলোক স্ব-গৃহলৈ উভতি যায়৷ কিন্তু স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশৰ পৰাওঁ হিন্দু সকলৰ প্ৰব্ৰজন গতি অব্যাহত থাকে৷ বঙালী জাতীয়তাবাদী চেতনাৰ কোষত জন্ম লাভ কৰা বাংলাদেশৰ সংবিধানে দেশখনক ধৰ্ম-নিৰেপক্ষ ৰাষ্ট্ৰ হিচাপে প্ৰতিষ্ঠা কৰিছিল যদিওঁ দেশ স্বাধীন হোৱাৰ মাত্ৰ কেইবছৰমানৰ পিছতে ১৯৭৫ চনৰ আগষ্ঠ মাহৰ ১৫ তাৰিখত জাতিৰজনক তথা তেতিয়াৰ ৰাষ্ট্ৰপ্ৰধান বঙ্গ-বন্ধু শ্বেখ মুজিবৰ ৰহমান সমন্নিতে তেওঁৰ পৰিয়ালৰ ১৮ জনকৈ সদস্য-সদস্যাক হত্যা কৰি সামৰিক বাহিনীয়ে ৰাজপাট দখল কৰিছিল৷ নিজৰ গাধী ৰক্ষাৰ বাবে জিয়া-উৰ-ৰহমানে ধৰ্মীয় মৌলবাদক তুষ্ঠ কৰিবলৈ ১৯৭৭ চনত সংবিধানৰ ‘ধৰ্ম নিৰপেক্ষতা’ৰ সলনি “সৰ্ব্ব শক্তিমান আল্লাহৰ ওপৰত পৰম আস্থা আৰু বিশ্বাস” সন্নিবিষ্ট কৰিছিল৷ জিয়াৰ পিছত, একনায়কত্ববাদী এৰশ্বাদে ‘ইচলাম’ক বাংলাদেশৰ ৰাষ্ট্ৰধৰ্ম হিচাপে ঘোষনা কৰিছিল৷
ভাৰতক বাংলাদেশৰ শত্ৰু আৰু হিন্দুক ভাৰতৰ দালাল হিচাপে প্ৰতিপন্ন কৰিবলৈ এৰশ্বাদ চৰকাৰ উঠি-পৰি লাগিছিল৷ বহুতৰ বাবে এয়া বাংলাদেশৰ মুক্তিযুদ্ধৰ চেতনাৰ পৰিপন্থী আছিল৷ পৰবৰ্তী সময়ত এৰশ্বাদ বিৰোধী জন-আন্দোলনে তাকেই প্ৰমাণিত কৰিছিল৷ সাম্প্ৰদায়িক মেৰুকৰণৰ লগতে কিছু স্ট্ৰাকচাৰেল অপচেষ্টায় বাংলাদেশী হিন্দু সমন্নিতে অন্ন্যান্য সংখ্যালঘুসকলক বেছি যথেষ্ঠ ক্ষতি কৰিছিল৷ তাৰ ভিতৰত শত্ৰু সম্পত্তি আইন ১৯৬৫ (পিছত অৰ্পিত সম্পত্তি অধ্যাদেশ ১৯৭৪ নামেৰে নামাকৰণ কৰা হৈছিল)৷ ১৯৬৫ চনৰ ভাৰত-পাকিস্তান যুদ্ধৰ পিছত পাকিস্তান চৰকাৰে হিন্দুৰ সম্পতি দখল কৰিবলৈ এই কুখ্যাত আইন প্ৰণয়ন কৰিছিল৷ বাংলাদেশৰ জনপ্ৰিয় বাতৰি কাকত ডেইলি স্টাৰৰ ২০০২ চনৰ ৬ জানুৱাৰীত প্ৰকাশিত এক বাতৰি মতে ১৯৬৪ চনৰ পৰা ১৯৯১ চনৰ ভিতৰত উক্ত আইনৰ বাবে আনুমানিক ৫৩ লাখ মানুহ বা প্ৰতিদিনে ৫৩৮জনকৈ মানুহ বাংলাদেশৰ পৰা প্ৰব্ৰজিত হৈছিল৷
পঞ্চগড় জিলাৰ বোদা উপজিলাৰ কাৰ্যবাহী বিষয়াৰ কাৰ্যালয়ত আমাৰ বাবে এক বিশেষ সভাৰ আয়োজন কৰিছিল৷ সভাত বাংলাদেশ অসমাৰিক সেৱা বিষয়াৰ লগত হোৱা আলোচনা কালত বৰ্তমান বাংলাদেশত বসবাস কৰা সংখ্যালঘু সকলৰ অৱস্থাৰ বিষয়ে জানিব বিচৰাত তেওঁ কয় যে, বাংলাদেশৰ আভ্যন্তৰীণ পৰিস্থিতি যথেষ্ঠ পৰিবৰ্তন হৈছে৷ সংখ্যালঘু-সংখ্যাগুৰু সকলোৰে অৱস্থাৰ আগতকৈ ভাল হৈছে৷ তেওঁৰ আমোলাতান্ত্ৰিক জবাবত আমি সন্তোষ্ঠ হ’ব পৰা নাছিলোঁ৷ আমাৰ follow up প্ৰশ্নৰ উত্তৰত তেওঁ ক’লে যে, চৰকাৰৰ গুৰুত্বপূৰ্ণ আসনত বহি যদিওঁ সকলো প্ৰশ্নৰ উত্তৰ দিয়া সহজ নহয়, কিন্তু এইটো সঁচা যে, আজি দেশত এক পৰিবৰ্তন আহিছে৷ আজি কোনো হিন্দু নিৰ্যাতিত হৈ দেশান্তৰিত হ’ব লগা পৰিৱেশ বাংলাদেশত নাই৷তেওঁ অলপ আক্ষেপেৰেই ক’লে যে, এনে বহু মানুহ আছে, যিসকলে বাংলাদেশত অপৰাধ সংগঠিত কৰি ভাৰতত আশ্ৰয় লয় আৰু চল-চাই বাংলাদেশৰ বদনাম কৰে৷ আমি যি প্ৰতিষ্ঠানৰ আমন্ত্ৰণত বাংলাদেশলৈ গৈছিলোঁ, সেই প্ৰতিষ্ঠানে আদিবাসী আৰু পিছপৰা জনজাতিৰ অধিকাৰ ৰক্ষাৰ বাবে এক বিশেষ প্ৰকল্প ৰূপায়ত কৰি আছে৷ “ইএছডিও-প্ৰেমদ্ধীপ” নামৰ উক্ত প্ৰকল্পৰ আইনী উপদেষ্টা ইমৰান হুছেইনৰ লগত হোৱা এক দীঘলীয়া সাক্ষাতকাৰত অৰ্পিত সম্পতি আইনৰ নামত কিদৰে অশিক্ষিত আদিবাসী সকলৰ ভূমি ‘বঙালী’সকলে হস্থগত কৰিছিল সেই কথা আমাক ধৈৰ্য্যসহকাৰে কৈ গৈছিল৷ ‘বঙালী’ বুলি কওঁতে তেওঁ ‘বঙালী মুছলমান’ আৰু ‘বঙালী হিন্দু’ দুয়োকে সাঙুৰি লৈছিল৷ বৰ্তমানৰ চৰকাৰে সেই ক’লা আইন বাতিল কৰি “অৰ্পিত সম্পত্তি প্ৰত্যাবৰ্তন আইন ২০১০” প্ৰণয়ণ কৰিছে৷ অধিবক্তা ইমৰানৰ নেতৃত্বত ইতিমধ্যে বহুতে হেৰুৱা সম্পত্তি উভতাই পাবলৈ সক্ষমো হৈছে৷ ইক’ ছছিয়েল ডেভেলপমেন্ট অৰ্গেনাইজেশ্বনত ব্যবস্থাপনা প্রশিক্ষণার্থী হিচাপে নিয়োজিত বিভুতি ভুষন সিনহাৰ মতে, হিন্দুসকল ভাৰতলৈ প্ৰব্ৰজিত হোৱাৰ কাৰণ কিছু পৰিমানে মনস্তাত্বিক৷ বাংলাদেশ জাতীয় বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ৰ ইংৰাজীৰ স্নাতোকত্তৰ ডিগ্ৰীদাৰী সিনহাৰ মতে এজন হিন্দু হিচাপে ভাৰতৰ নাগৰিক হ’ব পৰাটো এটা মৰ্য্যাদাৰ কথা৷ সিনহাৰ কথাবোৰ কিছু খহঠা অনুভৱ হলেওঁ কিছুমান খন্ডিব নোৱাৰা উদাহৰণেৰে এটা গোটেই আবেলি মোক কাবু কৰি ৰাখিছিল৷ তেওঁৰ পৰা পোৱা Clueৰ ভিত্তিত বিভিন্ন উৎসৰ পৰা আমি গম পাইছিলোঁ যে, এনেকি হিন্দু ধৰ্মালম্বী এজন সন্মানীয় সংসদ সদস্যেওঁ ভাৰতত মাটি কিনি ঘৰ সাজি ৰাখিছে!
২০০৯ চনৰ জানুৱাৰী মাহৰ পৰা বাংলাদেশত শ্বেইখ হাছিনাৰ নেতৃত্বাধীন আওয়ামী লীগ চৰকাৰে বাহ্যিক দিশত যথেষ্ঠ পৰিবৰ্তন কৰা ইতিমধ্যে আন্ত:ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয় মহলত চৰ্চা লাভ কৰিছে৷ বিশেষকৈ ধৰ্মীয় মৌলবাদ নিৰ্মূল আৰু যুদ্ধ-অপৰাধীৰ বিচাৰ প্ৰক্তিয়াই গোটেই বিশ্বত একপ্ৰকাৰ খলকনিৰ সৃষ্টি কৰিছে৷দিলৱাৰ হুছেইন ছাইদীৰ দৰে আন্তৰ্জাতিকভাৱে স্বীকৃত ইচলামিক পন্ডিতক যাৱৎজীৱন কাৰাদন্ডৰে দন্ডিত কৰাৰ সাহস কৰিছে৷বহুতে আকৌ বাংলাদেশৰ আন্ত:ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয় অপৰাধ ট্ৰাইবুন্যালক পক্ষপাতদুষ্ঠ বুলি সমালোচনাওঁ কৰিছে৷ কিন্তু এটা কথা অনস্বীকাৰ্য্য যে, হাছিনা চৰকাৰে দেশখনত বসবাস কৰা সংখ্যালঘুসকলৰ নিৰাপত্তাৰ এক স্থায়ী পৰিবেশ ঘুৰাই আনিবলৈ সক্ষম হৈছে৷ ১৯৭৭ চনত অবলুপ্তি ঘটা ‘ধৰ্ম-নিৰপেক্ষতা’ক সংবিধান সংশোধনৰ জড়িয়তে আকৌ সন্নিবিষ্ট কৰি উদাৰতা প্ৰকাশ কৰাৰ লগতে দেশখনত গণতন্ত্ৰক মজবুত কৰাৰ প্ৰয়াস কৰিছে৷ এই খিনিতে উল্লেখ কৰা বাঞ্ছনীয়যে, ‘ইচলাম’ এতিয়াওঁ বাংলাদেশৰ ৰাষ্ট্ৰধৰ্ম হিচাপে স্বীকৃত হৈ আছে৷ বাংলাদেশী সংবিধানৰ এই অদ্ভুত পৰস্পৰ-বিৰোধী স্থীতিৰ বিষয়ে দেশখনৰ আগশাৰীৰ সাংবাদিক তথা লিখক হাৰুণ হাবিব চাহাবৰ প্ৰতিক্ৰিয়া জানিব বিচাৰিছিলোঁ৷ হাবিব চাহাবৰ মতে, বাংলাদেশৰ সংবিধান সম্পূৰ্ণ ধৰ্ম-নিৰপেক্ষ কৰিবলৈ এতিয়াও বাকী আছে তথাপিও সংশোধনবোৰ (১৫তম) যথেষ্ঠ বৈপ্লৱিক আৰু মুক্তিযুদ্ধৰ চেতনাৰে উদ্ভোব্ধ আছিল৷
United Nations Human Rights Council ৰ ২০১৩ চনৰ বাংলাদেশৰ Periodic Reviewৰ প্ৰতিবেদনত প্ৰকাশিত তথ্যমতে, বাংলাদেশ চৰকাৰে পঞ্চদশ সংবিধান সংশোধনীৰ জড়িয়তে কেৱল ধৰ্ম-নিৰপেক্ষতাক এটি মূলনীতি হিচাপে ঘুৰাই অনা নাই বৰঞ্চ প্ৰতেক সংখ্যালঘু ধৰ্মালম্বীৰ বাবে পুজিৰো আৱন্টন দিছে৷ উক্ত পতিবেদনত চৰকাৰৰ উদৃতি দি কোৱা হৈছে যে, “প্ৰতেক নাগৰিকে নিজ নিজ ধৰ্ম পালন কৰাৰ অধিকাৰ আছে, কিন্তু উৎসৱ সলকোৰে বাবে”৷ যিসময়ত পৃথিৱীৰ বৃহত্তম গণতন্ত্ৰত সুশাসনৰ নামত খ্ৰীষ্ট্ৰীয়ান ধৰ্মালম্বীৰ বৰদিনৰ ছুটি বাতিল কৰা হ’ল সেই সময়ত বাংলাদেশৰ এই প্ৰতিবেদন পঢ়ি লজ্জা অনুভৱ কৰাৰ বাহিৰে আমি আমি আৰু কি কৰিব পাৰো?
প্ৰতিবেদনটোয়ে আৰু উল্লেখ কৰে যে, কক্সবাজাৰ জিলাৰ ৰামু আৰু তাৰ পাৰ্শৱৰ্তী এলেকাৰ বৌদ্ধ ধৰ্মালম্বীসকলৰ ওপৰত হোৱা আক্ৰমণৰ বিৰোদ্ধে চৰকাৰে কঠোৰত ব্যৱস্থা গ্ৰহন কৰিছে৷ অপৰাধীক কৰায়ত্ত্ব কৰাৰ লগতে, কৰ্তব্যত অৱহেলা কৰা নিৰাপত্তাৰক্ষীৰ ওপৰতো ব্যৱস্থা লোৱা হৈছে৷ ক্ষতিগ্ৰস্ত হোৱা ধৰ্মীয় স্থানসমূহ চৰকাৰী ব্যয়ত পুনৰ্নিৰ্মানৰ ব্যৱস্থা কৰিছে৷ আমি আমাৰ দেশৰ সংখ্যালঘুৰ নিৰাপত্তাৰ খাতিৰত ইয়াৰ কিঞ্চিতো আশা কৰিব পাৰিম নে? ১৯৮৩ চনৰ এই ফেব্ৰুৱাৰী মাহতে, গুৱাহাটীৰ পৰা এঘন্টাৰ দূৰৈত দিন-দুপৰত তিনি সহস্ৰাধিক মুছলমানক হত্যা কৰা হৈছিল কিন্তু আমাৰ তথাকথিত ধৰ্মনিৰপেক্ষ বৃহত্তম গণতন্ত্ৰই এজন অপৰাধীকো শাস্তি দিব নোৱাৰিলে৷ যিসময়ত অসমৰ বিটিএডিৰ পৰা উদ্ভাস্তু হোৱা সংখ্যালঘু নাগৰিক সকলক পুনৰবাসনৰ বাবে চৰকাৰে একো ব্যাৱস্থা গ্ৰহন নকৰিলে; সেই সময় বাংলাদেশৰ পৰা ত্ৰিপুৰাত আশ্ৰয় লৈ থকা চাকমা শৰনাৰ্থীসকলক ঘুৰাই নিবলৈ বাংলাদেশ চৰকাৰে প্ৰচেষ্টা চলাই আছে৷ ইতিমধ্যে ১২,২২২ জন জনজাতীয়লোকক উভতাই নিয়াৰ যাৱতীয় আনুষ্ঠানিকতা সম্পূৰ্ণ হৈছে৷
আজিৰ সংখ্যাত আৰু বিশেষ লিখিব বিচৰা নাই৷ পৰবৰ্ত্তী সংখ্যাত বাংলাদেশৰ আৰ্থ-সামাজিক তথা মানৱ উন্নয়নৰ ওপৰত আলোকপাত কৰি আমাৰ অভিজ্ঞতা আলোচনা কৰাৰ চেষ্টা কৰিম৷ বাংলাদেশৰ সংখ্যালঘু জাতি-উপজাতিৰ উন্নতি কামনা কৰি সামৰিছোঁ৷

Choudhury, I. U. (2009). Caste-based Discrimination in South Asia: A Study of Bangladesh. New Delhi: Indian Institute of Dalit Studies.
Council, U. N. (2013). UPR Bangladesh 2013. Dhaka: Human Rights Forum, Bangladesh.
De, S. (2005). Illegal Migrations and the North East. Kolkata: Maula Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata.
Hamid, M. (2014, November 21). why migration is a fundamental human right. Retrieved January 18, 2015, from The Guardian:
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (2006). Policy Focus, Bangladesh. Washington: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The Daily Star. (2014, August 15). BANGABANDHU AND LAPSES IN HIS SECURITY. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from The Daily Star:
গুহ, অ. (2011, January). ব্ৰহ্মপু্ৰ উপত্যকাৰ অসমীয়া সমাজত বহিৰাগত: এক দৃষ্টিপাত. জাগৰণ, চৰ-চাপৰি সাহিত্য পৰিষদ, অসম .

BTAD: The Slaughter House

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Recent violence in Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) of Assam has claimed at least 44 lives officially and more than ten are still missing. The nature of this violence has distinguished itself from the previous violence of 2012 which also claimed more than hundred lives. After examining the happening over more than two week, we can say with conviction that this is not a communal violence or clash between two ethnic groups. This time masterminds of violence were not been able to instigate the common Bodos to attack the Muslims. The previous violence in 2012 has perhaps taught both Bodos and Muslims that the masterminds cash on value of their lost lives and property. Now, the question arises if this is not a communal clash or even if the common Bodos have not participated in the violence than who have executed the heinous crime against humanity? In this brief essay we shall try understand the dynamics of this violence and thus to find out the answer of this basic question.

The media, both print and electronic started carrying the stories of violence only after the miscreants used automotive gun and shot one prominent journalist of the area Mr. Dhananjoy Nath. But before shooting and killing started; there were also gruesome atrocities on the marginalised Muslims happening. But the media didn’t head on to those stories either intentionally or due to inaccessibility. But the later become irrelevant, when we came to know that some of the brave local journalists and activists recorded the statement of victims and sent across to the media houses. But nobody paid attention to courage and hard work of those local journalists and activists. If the media had acted as proactively as expected; this massacre could have been averted. Let’s have an account on what actually happened between 24th of May to 30th of May i.e. from Election Day to Pramila Rani Brahma’s controversial statement and aftermath of the massacre.

On 24th of April one on duty police personnel was killed and two poll officials were injured by an angry mob. The incident occurred at Harbhanga polling booth of Gossaigaon under 5 No Kokrajhar LS (ST) Constituency owing to a rumour of EVM malfunctioning. Now the villagers think that this was meticulously plan and orchestrated by the ruling party of the council to blame the Muslims and thus to keep them away from participating in the voting.

From the very next day of general election, police started torturing and atrocities on the villagers of Hanbanga, Jamunatari, Balabara etc. Samsul Hoque, a 80 years old partially paralysed man, who was unable to cast his vote on 24th April due to his ill health, while narrating the police atrocities said “At around 3:30am I went outside for defecation, a heavily armed group started beating me up without saying a single word”. His aged wife was also beaten up ruthlessly. Mr. Hoque can’t believe that police personnel can torture the elderly and woman so brutally. Aktara Banu experienced the same cruelty at around 4 am. The police started beating her family members indiscriminately. Her adolescent girl was brutally beaten up. Her ten years old son was kicked at his private parts. His male organ is almost damaged. Now he is battling with at a hospital in Dhubri, adjacent district of Kokrajhar. In another house, a three months old infant was thrown away from her mother’s lap. The mother of the newborn baby was also beaten up and tried to strip her cloths, she screamed and runaway. But her fourteen years old daughter couldn’t save herself. She was physically assaulted. In another household, the police intentionally hit on the abdomen of a pregnant woman. It is reported that she has maximum chance of miscarriage. The story doesn’t ends here. Hundreds of houses belonging to the Muslims were torched by the police, money, ATM and other valuables were looted, and household assets were destroyed. Three adolescent girls were taken into jungle. After more than two hours they came back. They couldn’t speak out what they have gone through.

The people of seven villages were living under extreme fear. They couldn’t gather the courage to file even a first information report (FIR) against the police atrocities. After two days of the incident, local right activist and journalist approached the victims and encourage them to file FIR. One of the activists Mokhlesur Rahman says “People were extremely afraid; they were not ready to take further risk.” The chief functionary of another right based group said that their organization had approached the Assam Human Rights Commission to take sou motu cognizance of the incident. But Assam Human Rights Commission insisted on registering criminal cases with the local police first. He further said “After 16th of May, situation will worsen; people will again have to live under the mercy of police”. “Hence, going against police was a great dilemma for the victims” he added.

Still the local right activists persuaded at least fifty families to file FIR within the last two days of their engagement with the victims. In the meanwhile on 30th of April, Pramila Rani Brahma, the former Agriculture Minister of Assam who was desperately expecting BPF’s official candidate Chandan Brahma’s win to get a berth in the Tarun Gogoi cabinet by replacing Mr. Brahma, gave an explosive statement that the Muslims of BTAD area have not voted for their official candidate and that may lead to the defeat of Chandan Brahma.

The result of Kokrajhar LS Assembly Election will not only decide the fate of Pramila Rani Brahma or Chandan Brahma; but it will have a larger impact on their fight for separate statehood called ‘Bodoland’. Akbar Ali (42), a villager at Bangshibari, who is also a victim of previous sectarian violence in 1994 against Muslims, hopes that once Naba Saraniaya is elected and sent to parliament, the issues and suffering of the Non-Bodos will be raised in Parliament, which will help them to bring out the villages having more 50% of Non-Bodos from BTAD area. It is widely speculated that the age long suppression of Bodos over non-Bodos will be quite visible in the election result. Though Non Bodos are the two/third of the total population, still they are subjugated to such a level of suppression that their socio-political and economic rights have been violated each and every passing day. The present Bodo political class which emerged through an act of terrorism has used violence many times to maintain their political hegemony. In the past, the Bodo extremists attacked Assamese speaking Hindus, Adivasis, Santhals and Bangali speaking Muslims and Hindus. Many of them are still living a miserable life in the camps; some of them are living in the camps for more than a decade. In this election, these people found an opportunity to protest against the suppression, to which they have been subjected time and again. Whereas the ruling party of BTAD found that their defeat was curtained and started violence against these people. Many of the victims of police atrocities and some conscious citizens of BTAD think that the incident of Harbhanga Polling Booth was meticulously planned to keep the non-Bodos from participating in the voting.

Pramila Rani Brahma’s statement was condemned by people across the political establishment and people feared of the rerun of 2012’s ethnic cleansing which claimed more than hundred lives. Congress leader and ex-MLA Abdul Khaleque demanded Pramila Rani Brahma’s arrest. On next day i.e. on 1st of May, 2014, the first attack was on a prominent journalist of BTAD Mr. Dhananjoy Nath at around 6:45pm. He sustained bullet injury and is now undergoing treatment. The second attack was at around 7:30pm at Narshingpara , where three people were killed on the spot and two girls child got two bullet injuries and battling with her life one at Barpeta Medical College and another at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. One of them Rashida Khatun (12) lost both her parents. Her elder sister Shamela Khatun (14) and Ramzan Ali (7) have also become orphan. Her uncle Tura Miya (25) a scrap picker doesn’t know how he will look after these kids.

The third incident happened at around 12:00am mid night, a heavily armed militant group killed eight people and injured at least four including women and children at Balapara, just few kilometres away from place where the police carried out inhuman atrocity on the wee hours of 25th of April, 2014. Mokhlesur Rahman, the right activist, who persuaded the victims to file FIR, opines that there is sufficient ground to doubt that the administrative machinery is hand in gloves with the militants in the killing of the villagers at Balapara to terrify the victims of police atrocities, so they refrain from filing FIR and thus involvement of administrative mechanism never comes to light.

On 2nd of May, 2014, in the broad day light, a group of around forty heavily armed militant ablaze nearly 70 houses and killed at least 31 people happened in Gampara near Gobordhana of Baksa district of BTAD area. The place is just few kilometres from the place Narshingbari, where three people were killed at previous night. The survivors informed that more than 50 people are still missing. Now the dead bodies are being found in downstream of Beki in Garemari, Kalgachiya of Barpeta district which more than thirty kilometres from the place of incident. This gruesome incident Administration didn’t take any precaution to avoid such attacks. Shahatan Nessa (60) , who lost her daughter and daughter in law in attack said that the villagers went to the forest office for shelter. “But they didn’t provided, whereas my daughter in law was killed while my grander daughter Amina Khatun (2) was in her lap” she said to me somehow controlling her pain and emotion. Her granddaughter Amina Khatun also got bullet injury in her belly.

Minister of Gogoi’s cabinet,Siddique Ahmed who visited the BTAD under the instruction of Chief Minister, told the newspersons that the members of ruling party of BTAD were involved in the massacre. Through press media he demanded the arrest of Smt.Pramila Rani Brahma. He also admitted the failure of the Muslim Ministers and MLA’s along with the Govt of Assam, in protecting the lives of the Muslim community. One the other hand Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi gave a total opposite statement. According Mr. Gogoi, Congress ally BPF is not involved in the massacre but NDFB(S) is responsible for the recent violation. Later on, Siddique Ahmed was recalled by chief minister over his statement. Whereas NDFB (Songbijit) straight forwardly refused their involvement in the killings and doubted the presence of third force in statement to media.

On 3rd May, 2014 Hafiz Ahmed, the chief convenor of All India Secular Forum’s Assam Chapter informed the newspersons after the Citizen’s Meet in Guwahati that the bullets were fired using guns provided to forest officials. He also alleged that Sri Khampa Borgoyary, the Deputy Chief and Executive member of Forest Dept of BTC and the Ranger of Bashbari Range office, Sri Amiya Brahma were fully involved in the massacre of Gampara. It needs to rope in here that Khampa Borgoyary had provided jobs to some surrendered BLT cadres and Youth BPF group in Manas Wildlife National Park as labourers. But those so called labourers not only possess illegal arms but also have access to arms of forest department. Mr. Ahmed added. Later on the day Amiya Brahma and at least ten of his colleagues were arrested and the remaining are absconding who were involved in the gruesome massacre of Gampara. This has actually strengthened allegation of involvement of administration in sectarian violence.


If we look at the history of Bodo Movement, it is clear that since late 80s, the non-Bodos are being targeted with a clear motive of ethnic cleansing though armed violence. Most recently, the rise of Hindutva politics, the Bodo militants and the Bodo ruling class are getting boost to attack the Muslims and the media with vested ideological and commercial inclination towards right wing political parties are trying to frame the victims as illegal immigrants.


Nagabanda Massacre and the other side of Assamese Intelligentsia

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Nagabanda High School is one of the oldest educational institutes of Morigaon district of Assam. The school is situated near the Nagabanda Bazar, about 15 KMs from the district headquarter. The healthy rural market, the nicely planted trees at Nagabanda Junior College, huge playground with pavilion and the green agricultural fields surrounding the area make it scenic and beautiful. But who knows Nagabanda is carrying a huge amount of pain and agony?

On 16th February’1983 (31st Anniversary), 109 helpless people were brutally killed in a relief camp at Nagabanda High School. The villagers of the adjoining villages were instructed by the peace committee of civil administration and police administration to take shelter in the relief camp on 16th Feb’1983 to escape from the violent attacks of the agitators of Assam Movement. A large numbers of people from neighboring villages  took shelter in the school including women and children. At around 10’o clock morning; a huge mob leaded by police personals attacked the people taking shelter in the school. The police indiscriminately fired fire on the relief camp. The frightened people closed the doors and windows of the school. Then the agitators set school on fire. Some of the people tried to escape through the windows of back side of the school; some of them climbed the trees nearby the school. But they didn’t get escape. The agitators killed them on the bunch of tree by sharp and long weapons. Total one hundred and nine dead bodies were recovered and another few hundred got injured.


Nine dead bodies were found in this newly constructed urinal of the school

The Nagabanda massacre has a great importance of study as it manifests many questions in relation to the infamous Nellie massacre. Nagabanda massacre was carried out two days before the Nellie massacre. In the both cases some of the perpetrators and victims were from common communities.  Bengal origin Muslims (Miya) dominated Nagabanda is surrounded by the villages of Tiwa (lalung), Koch and Nath-Jogi communities. In case of Nellie, Tiwas were the main perpetrators and Muslims were the victims. Here also the Muslims were the victims and the involvements of Tiwas in the violence were apparent. In both cases Muslims were victimized by the agitators as they participated in the election.

The distance between Nagabanda is around 30 kms from Nellie. But strategically, the sub-divisional headquarter (Now district) Morigaon divides the distance into almost equal. The Nagabanda incident was a warning signal for the civil as well as police administration to avert the Nellie massacre which claim 1600 lives officially, the unofficial figure is more than five thousand.


Google map: red dots refer the distance between Nagabanda, Morigaon and Nellie

The police administration was hand in glove with the agitators. One of the victims of police brutality, a school teacher from the Nagabanda one Abdul Mazid described his painful story. He said that, after returning from election duty he found his home deserted, as owing to the incident of Nagabanda High School, people had left their houses. Abdul Mazid decided to return to the police station from where he was sent to election duty. He stopped a vehicle carrying police personals and requested them to take him to police station. On returned, the police brutally beaten him up, snatched the golden bangles of wife and Rs. 800/- from his pocket. He put off his skull cap and shows the wound mark on his head. Along with him two other commuters, the post master of the local branch post office and the peon were also beaten up. The police had broken one leg of the post master.

Thus the police and civil administration broke the law and buried  humanity hand in hand with the agitators. Sanjoy Hazarika wrote “(government officers) defied the official orders and courted arrest, demanding the ouster of the aliens. If it was not xenophobia, then it was patriotism of a very jingoistic quality”. But was the school teacher, post master or the peon a foreigner? Who have their roots in this land for generations? Or why do we try to romanticise the injustice???

Though being a student of social science and having keen interest on Assam Movement, I had very little information about the gruesome genocide until I reached Nagabanda and interacted with the survivors. Senior journalist Samudhra Gupta Kashyp’s remark on Nellie massacre suddenly reflected in my mind. He was speaking in a conversation titled “Can today’s society change the media?”  organised by Thumb Print Magazine at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati. He informed the gathering that, Assam Tribune, the leading English Daily from Guwahati had had an editorial meeting and decided not to publish a single photo of Nellie massacre! Though I perceived it in a different perspective, but today, I am seeing the other side of such decision. Hundred and nine lives were brutally hacked to death during broad day light by the agitators with the active participation of government machinery but the people of the state as well as in outside remain in the dark. No doubt media played a very biased and cruel role during the agitation. The fascist characteristics of the agitation were also responsible for such gross violation of professional ethic of journalism. Sabita Goswami wrote in her autobiography that she was summoned by the then AASU leader Atul Bora. When she visited AASU office, Atul Bora showed a photocopy of her article and said “If an Assamese writes in this manner, it is equivalent to going against Assam’s interests”. Foreign journalists were also not allowed to enter Assam for a certain period of time during the movement.

This biasness still continues and has been grounded to other domains as well. If we analyse the news and views on Nellie massacre, it becomes very much clear that the academicians and researchers were not free from the ethnocentric biasness. While analysing the Nellie massacre Sanjoy Hazarika writes “They become dependent on the others. Their own shortsightedness is reflected everyday when they contemplate their former tenants as owners of this ancestral land. The rage becomes deeper, blinding those in its grip to their own follies”. Many academicians like Hazarika found land alienation as the primary cause of Nellie massacre. But when Japanese researcher Makiko Kimura asked the cause of the massacre to both attackers from Tiwa (earlier known as Lanung) and victim from Muslims of Bengal Origin (commonly known as Miya), nobody mentioned that land alienation as a reason. When I categorically asked one 78 years old Mafiz Uddin Ahmed, (who lost ten of his family members including his mother in Nellie massacre) about the issue of land alienation or land grabbing, his response was quite thought provoking. He said “When this land was allotted to us in 1942 by the colonial magistrate against the payment of rupees five, it was a jungle. Our family came to Nellie from Nogaon (Earlier Nowgong) and cleared the land for cultivation.” Ahmed’s narrative is clear enough to understand that the Muslims had not grabbed the land of Tiwas or had not alienated them from their land. But they got a jungle against payment from British government as per the policy of the colonial administration. He holds leaders of Assam Movement responsible for the massacre and says that, the AASU and the subsequent AGP government declared the attackers who died during the massacre as martyr, the so called martyr’s families were compensated with Rs. 25000/-, while the victims who lost their lives for participating in the democratic process of election were not declared as martyr and provided mere Rs. 5000/- as compensation!

Then, what is the reason of justifying riots, killing innocent human lives or gross violation of civil political and human rights? Or why do we try to cover up injustice committed upon a marginalized community? Why we can’t digest the historical fact that these so called Miyas were brought to Assam from another province of colonial India under administrative patronage?

The proposed NRC modalities: Passport to another violence in Assam

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On 12 July’ 2013, Jaydeep Shukla, Extra Assistant Commissioner to Government of Assam submitted the additional affidavit in Supreme Court of India on Writ Petition (Civil) No. 274/2009 filed by Assam Public Works, regarding updation of National Register of Citizen (NRC). The additional affidavit is more of dictation by AASU (All Assam Students Union) then any submission of a democratic government of an Indian state. AASU submitted their suggestions on May 21, 2013 opposing the earlier affidavit given by government of Assam and held a meeting with the group of Ministers to discuss the modalities and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on July 4, 2013. The government accepted the recommendations made by AASU. The modified modalities and SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) have incorporated some perilous clauses and deleted some basic ethics and democratic values.

Surprisingly, no other organizations were invited to the meeting, not even the representatives of AAMSU (All Assam Minority Students Union), whereas they were present in such meeting before preparing the earlier affidavit.

What are in this additional affidavit?

Clause 4(b) of the additional affidavit outlines that there would be no house to house enumeration, only application forms will be distributed house to house though government machinery. This affidavit also deleted the last two lines of introductory para of earlier affidavit “the Citizenship (Registration of Citizen and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rule, 2003 prescribed for house to house enumeration of all the households as done in case of population census or in the intensive revision electoral rule” vide clause 5 (i). The point 7 of SOP submitted earlier “Distribution of forms and house to house enumeration” also deleted by clause 5 (ii) and inserted “Inviting application from the head of the family”. The new modalities outlined that the forms will be available at circle office too.

Question arises, why AASU is interested to delete the clause ‘house to house enumeration’? Is updation of NRC is not an intensive work? Does not it seem to be seriously important? The affidavit says that forms will be distributed through government machinery. If government machinery can distribute the forms house to house, why can’t enumerate house to house?

Or the house to house distribution will remain in black and white and in practical the citizen will have to collect it from circle office? Imagine, what hurdles will have to face by the people of the char areas, where there are no roads, boot is the only means of communication, where one week’s travelling will be required to collect the form from circle office! Whereas, in case of any other states such updation always done through house to house enumeration.

The expertise of AASU does not end here. The affidavit also clearly mentions that there will be no provision of any facilitator! Where more than half of the population is illiterate and they are being asked to fill up their application forms from their own? Doesn’t it put a serious question mark on AASU’s inner intention?

Clause 4(c) of the additional affidavit says that the ‘D’ voters can apply for inclusion of their name in the updated NRC. But they would be finally included in the NRC, only when they are declared as non foreigner by Foreigners Tribunal. Even though they have sufficient documents to get registered their names in updated NRC. Doesn’t this provision violet the basic tenet of Indian judiciary? They will be treated as guilty until they are proven innocent (not innocent until proven guilty!). If we look at the conviction rate of ‘D’ voters, it is found that the conviction rate is very low. Total 55184 ‘D’ voter cases were registered between 1985 to 2012 (July), out of 55184 only 6590 were declared as foreigners. The conviction rate is 8.37%. That means more than 91% of those ‘D’ voters were genuine Indian citizen and were illegally harassed. And if we link it up to the proposed modalities that more than 91% of ‘D’ voter’s name will not be included in the updated NRC with out their fault! The additional affidavit also clarifies that the pending cases at Foreigners Tribunal will not affect the implementation of NRC updation. Doesn’t it alternatively say that we are not bothered about your sufferings?

Another crucial clause is incorporated in the affidavit, which indicates that if somebody’s name is not included (not satisfied with the outcome), will have to appeal through Foreigners Tribunal only and that also within 60days of such rejection. The option of tagging competent civil court might be there, which by virtue of its competency could direct the government to pay compensation to victim if rejected illegally. But in case of only Foreigners Tribunal, the judge will not hold such power to direct the authority to pay compensation. Interestingly, this appeal process will also not link up to the NRC updation process.

Point (g) of the annexed modalities along with the additional affidavit says, “…However, persons who are originally inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants, who are citizens of India ab initio, shall be included in the consolidated list if the citizenship of such persons is beyond reasonable doubt and to the full satisfaction of the registering authority.” Doesn’t it summarily mean that the registering authority can add any name if they wish to do so? What is the reason behind this absolute power to authority? Is this represents any of our democratic values?
A legitimate doubt comes to mind, whether AASU really wants to update the NRC or trying to keep the issue alive to keep themselves in the limelight; otherwise why they are providing such dangerous, non viable and peculiar suggestions?

Why Congress government is playing with NRC?

If we closely observe the recent political developments in Assam, it becomes very clear that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is taking some non conventional decision to be in power in the next term also. After the violence in BTAD and RHAC, the result of the panchayat poll has shown that Congress has lost ground in the minority belt. At the same time AIUDF has been becoming invincible in that belt. On the other hand BJP’s rise in the municipal election has actually threatened Congress. Gogoi is ready to change the role of the game. It seems that his nod to ULFA’s demand to declare Assam as a tribal state or accepting the suggestion of AASU on NRC updation blindly are the part of his greater political plan. He has to prove that he is more pro-nationalist than declining AGP or Sarbananda Sonowal. No doubt his power thrust may bring another bloodshed in Assam.

Why AIUDF is silent spectator?

In recent times, AIUDF is getting a boost politically after every clash or violence with minorities of the state. Be it 2010’s police firing at Barpeta or BTAD violence in 2012. If the NRC updation is preceded with the current modalities another violence can’t be avoided by any means. For a political gain AIUDF’s silence may be quite natural. Otherwise do you see any reason behind this epic silence?