Tag: assam

September 15, 2017 /

Tagging two of his friends, Mizanur Rehman, a young primary school teacher of Naskara Lower Primary School in lower Assam’s Dhubri district, uploaded a photograph in the morning hours of 15th August on his Facebook timeline. The photograph featured an elderly man, a male adolescent, and two toddlers saluting the fluttering Indian flag while murky flood waters rose upto their chest, threatening to engulf their salutations. By afternoon, most people had seen and shared the post, the image itself had been catapulted to the heavenly skies of social-media circulation. Detached from the original context, it moved freely as a lone object.

September 9, 2017 /

This year, 25 districts and more than 32 lakh of people have been affected by flood and over hundred people have lost their lives. However, the issue unfortunately and unsurprisingly fails to grab the national limelight. In the national dailies, this issue only finds a neglected corner.

August 30, 2017 /

“Whither is our democracy bound?”—It can be said that the present time is marked by a deterioration of circumstances in which such questions can be raised. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and its fraternal organisations have defined democracy in their own terms. These organisations have also tried to define citizenship to suit their agenda by trying to determine who is an Indian and a patriot as well as who are anti-nationals. As a result, the fundamental ideas about free speech have also transformed. It has been seen that the ruling party and its fraternal organisations have given priority to those who are their ideological allies when it comes to appointing the heads of institutions of higher education and research in the country. A parallel may be drawn between the situation that prevails today and the curtailment of free speech during the emergency in the 1970s. During emergency, it was not possible for independent writers to publish articles or broadcast radio plays in government media unless they maintained the interests of Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family or promoted the twenty point programme and the five point programme introduced by Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Even private newspapers were censored or they succumbed to the iron grip of the government. The situation today is more or less the same if not worst.

August 29, 2017 /

It’s that time of the year again. My facebook page is flooded with posts and shared memes either commenting on how the national media and the centre ignores Assam’s flood or asking people to donate stuff. The great floods of Assam are such a part of Oxomia life that it affects not just the affected but also all others who are affected by the effect on the affected. It affects the Oxomia jati, irrespective of whether your bheti has been washed out by the Lueit, Kolong or Pagladia. In fact you could be comfortably perched on a hilltop like me and still be affected by flood. I will tell you how.

August 2, 2017 /

On 30 June 2017, almost two hundred protesters who had gathered together to draw attention of the Assam government towards the concerns of the citizens of the state in relation to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Doubtful voters (D-voters) issue at Kharbazaar in Assam’s Goalpara district were dispersed by the district police administration during which an youth named Yakub Ali was shot dead by the police.

July 26, 2017 /

Again, some days ago, the controversial Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia came to Assam and created yet another hullabaloo in the state. He visited an arms training camp organized by the outfit in Hojai in central Assam

June 26, 2017 /

In an unconstitutional and discriminatory move, the Education Department of the Assam government has recently come up with a notification that bars candidates who have studied in the vernacular medium from appearing for the Special Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) for Graduate Teachers in the Adarsha Vidyalayas in Assam.

June 13, 2017 /

It was a chilly cold November morning in 2016, when my respondent’s acquaintance dropped me at Simaluguri and arranged an auto-cum-carrier for my remaining journey to United Liberation Front of Asom’s (ULFA) designated camp, popularly known as ‘Asom Navnirman Kendra’ at Lakwa in Sivasagar. I wasn’t scared but I was apprehensive. Anxieties in fact started right in the morning when I saw this elderly but very handsome former ULFA Commander who drove me to Simaluguri. I found him handsome because he drove with great confidence in spite of only his left hand being intact while at the same time sharing the significance of the historic Sivasagar town. It was a grenade that blew off his right hand during one of his former tough underground days. He had embraced his disability with grace.

June 10, 2017 /

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.

April 26, 2017 /

Assam’s Debjani Bora, who has won gold at the national level for her javelin throws, was targeted as a witch in 2014 in the state and assaulted, of all the places, in a community prayer hall. Debjani’s case puts into question one of the biggest myths around witch-hunting, that it takes place only due to superstition, ignorance and lack of education in far-flung remote villages, and among poor, uneducated people.

March 21, 2017 /

On 14th March, a local Assamese news channel – News Live, owned and managed by the wife of the most powerful Assam BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, connected few dots with ‘creative journalism’ and went on a frenzy that a fatwa has been issued by 46 Muslim clerics against Nahid Afreen. Soon other local news channels jumped into the war of TRP. Soon came the two midnight tweets of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal adding fuel to the fire.

March 17, 2017 /

Translation of now infamous non-fatwa (pamphlet) against singer Nahid Afreen of Assam about which half the country is going crazy especially Delhi media. The non-fatwa is regressive and condemnable, no doubt about it. But it is also hilariously polite. Also, it tries to be emotional; it tries to be emotional by invoking hardships, hunger, drought etc. from the yonder years of migration (perhaps 80-100 years ago). By the end of it, it is oldies complaining about the newer generations who are transgressing regressive ideas

January 26, 2017 /

Debates have started again after when the ULFA chief in his latest notes from underground vowed to register his protest – “that too not in words” – if theatres in Assam decide to take down an Assamese film called Shakira Ahibo Bakultolor Bihuloi / Shakira will be coming to Bakultol’s Bihu in favour of films like Raees and Kaabil.

January 16, 2017 /

The government’s intention of amending the Citizenship Act via the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been met with anger, anxiety, and unrest across Assam. Faced with a strident opposition to the proposed amendments from across Assam in the last few weeks, the BJP—with the support of a number of Bengali organisations as well—has reoriented its strategy by calling on the Bengali-speaking community to identify themselves as Assamese-speakers. Key leaders such as Himanta Biswa Sarma have advocated the assimilation of the Bengali-speakers of Barak into Assamese linguistic and cultural identity. Others have suggested that they “become Assamese” while maintaining their linguistic identity, and yet others have called on them to return Assamese as their mother-tongue in the Census.

January 3, 2017 /

Armoured with a notebook, a lousy phone camera and a few overnight clothes, I nervously left Shillong alone and drove down to Topatoli in the Nagaon District of Assam, in order to re-enter Meghalaya from Raid Nongkhap,which spreads from Ri Bhoi District into Assam. I left with a thirst for narratives, of people, of nature, of existence in this space whose identity as a periphery was intensified and galvanized in the 1970s, post the formation of the Meghalaya statehood. This was when the river Umsiang was identified as a natural boundary between Assam and Meghalaya and when cultures in the region were starting to fracture, at least on paper.

December 14, 2016 /

Tonight, 13th of December 2016, would be the 73nd night that Akhil Gogoi, the maverick 40 years old leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) would spend in prison. For the uninitiated – KMMS has been the largest social movement in Assam after the turn of the century – that too a left-leaning social movement. This is not the first time that Gogoi has been in prison since KMSS was launched in 2005, but what sets apart the last 72 nights compared to previous incarcerations is the blatant misuse of the criminal justice system and police by the BJP Government in Assam.

December 13, 2016 /

On 2nd October, Akhil Gogoi, a peasant leader and founder Secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) – a left wing peasant organisation based in Assam was picked up from Gandhibasti, Guwahati and was later handed over to Jakhalabandha police in connection with a case of inciting protestors during an eviction drive against illegal settlers in and around the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). A team of Chandmari police escorted him to Nagaon and later he was sent to Lakhimpur Jail. Akhil Gogoi was remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a court at Golaghat on 2nd November. He was re-arrested in connection with a case of 2006. And He is still in Golaghat Central Jail. Akhil Gogoi wrote an open letter to in Assamese from jail. This is a translation published in The Assam News.

September 22, 2016 /

After the BJP came to power in Assam in May 2016, the state government has unleashed a reign of terror to execute its fascistic agendas. Within 2 months into power, the government opened fire and killed a 25 year old man Mintu Deuri, during a protest organized in Raha against the transfer of the site for a proposed AIIMS in the state on 15th July 2016. Now on 19 September 2016, just 34 days after the Raha incident, the police has again opened fire and killed two people – Anjuma Khatun and Fakhruddin, at a demonstration led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) at Banderdubi revenue village near the Kaziranga National Park. The protestors were demanding resettlement and adequate compensation against an eviction drive carried out by the mandate of the Gauhati High Court order dated 9 October 2015 which was supposed to happen two days later, i.e. on 21 September 2016 but had been preponed to avoid protests. The villagers, belonging mainly to the Muslim community of erstwhile East Bengal origin, have been residing in the village for more than half a century.

September 13, 2016 /

On the train coming back to Guwahati I realised that the only certain fact was that 15 dead bodies, including that of the gunman, had been found in the marketplace that day. And yet, my writer’s mind couldn’t stop coming up with further scenarios. Had Islary still been undecided about carrying out an attack when he got down in the market? What if the AK he was carrying under his raincoat had been meant for protection only? Had he counted on the absence of a police outpost at Balajan Tiniali to keep him safe? Was he there to maybe collect money from someone? Or might he have wanted to give himself up? Had he been surprised by the security forces, or had there already been someone at the market waiting for him? One of the things I had kept hearing was the presence of two or three men dressed in black. Might have there been a crossfire? Or was there just a single gunman involved, as claimed by the police, looking to lessen the pressure on his group by a terror strike? And could that claim have then influenced the testimony of the eyewitnesses I had met?

August 5, 2016 /

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.

May 27, 2016 /

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.