The Bengalis of Assam on bed of arrows


The most important truth is not being considered by any one that all the descendants of undivided India are logically and legally Indians. Even if their parents or grandparents might have migrated from one region to another, very much under the geographical domain of undivided India for whatever reason, no one can deprive them of their Indian identity.

– Tapodhir Bhattacharjee

Situation is daily undergoing metamorphic change. So long all the linguistic minorities including Bengalis have been waiting with suspended breath, when would arrive 30th June! At the stroke of midnight on 31st December, 2017 the publication of first draft of the national register of citizens made it obvious that the so called renewal of NRC is nothing but a well designed conspiracy. Thereafter, with the passage of time, the cacophony of Assamese hegemonism became progressively louder in various print and electronic media in Guwahati. The Govt. of Assam frequently informs the people through advertisements that NRC is justified, neutral and all works are being undertaken by the direct supervision of the honourable supreme court. In reality, this supervision is not at all direct; on the contrary the entire state machinery has become overactive in translating the predetermined decisions of the thoroughly biased Assamese hegemonism.

The state co-ordinator of NRC always refers to the supreme court while devising various rules in last few months but he himself has been wantonly changing them according to his own sweet will. This process has created severe crisis of identity for all non-Assamese linguistic minorities including Bengalis. The fundamental document for the renewal is the NRC of 1951 which actually was not found in several districts of Assam. It is worthwhile to remember that in 1951 the present day states like Meghalaya, Mizoram etc. were parts of the then Assam as districts, when these areas got separated from Assam, many non-Assamese inhabitants including Bengalis) of those areas migrated to various areas of Assam at the behest of their livelihood. During scrutiny of the relevant documents of the descendants of those inhabitants for NRC updation, it was found out that the state govts of North East are completely indifferent and unresponsive towards those people. The immense significance of this attitude is clearly evident on the NRC updation process. The same thing is being repeated with regards to the electoral roll of 1966. As per the initial instructions, the inhabitants of Assam submitted copies of that electoral roll containing the names of their parents and/or grandparents to establish their legacy data. But in many cases these are being ignored. For all practical purposes no-document is considered valid for the Bengalis in particular. The entire process in fraudulent. Besides dirty politics of communalism is an extra burden. As the pro-Hindu organizations are experts in spreading rumours, Bengali Hindus, whether educated or uneducated, are being led to believe that, in spite of pouring out poisons by the demonized publicity machines of Assamese chauvinism day in and day out, these are to be ignored. The Hindus will be saved by pulling some string in Hindusthan. Because NRC Process has to be comprehended as God sent opportunity to cleanse Assam of Muslims. But this opportunity is being seized by Islamic fundamentalists to convince the Bengali Muslims that language is not at all an important matter. In order to live in Assam without any hindrance, the Muslims are required to declare them as Assamese. In fact, in several areas of Brahmaputra valley, Muslims speaking Bengali dialects declare themselves as Assamese (that too in their own dialectical expression) during census. In spite of that, Assam witnessed ghastly genocide at Nellie and Gohpur. And, now this so-called ‘Neo-Assamese community is being subjected to humiliation during the process of NRC updation. Yet the thoroughly blind persons are unable to read what is writ large on the wall. As conviction about Bengali nationality does not have firm foundation among the Hindus and Muslims, they consider one another as scarecrows. However we find some infallible lighthouses in the midst of pitchy darkness in the presence of personalities like Moulana Sarimal Hoque, Moulana Ahmad Sayeed, Moulana Fariduddin and Moulana Alaur Rahaman Mazarbhuiyan. They don’t hesitate to declare unhesitatingly in public meetings that in the greatest possible hours of national calamities, we have to learn to live with our Bengali identity. We are to remain united as Bengalis, not as Hindus and Muslims.

Further it is also true that a few Bengali Hindu elites subservient to political power and a few Muslim Political players having expertise in the game of fragmentation are living no stone unturned to fish in troubled water. They are being encouraged in the recently pronounced official discourse of ‘greater Assamese Nationality’ which is nothing but a paradoxical concept. The objective of such official sermon is very obvious. This aims at obliterating the uniqueness of all minority ethnic identities like the hapless Bengalis, Bodos, Karbis, Dimasas, Mishings, Rabhas etc. Recently we are witnessing rightist revivalism around the globe. Assamese chauvinism is deriving strength from that trend. The Bengali Hindus and Muslims should not ever forget that their mother-tongue is placed sixth among the languages of the world and second in India. Unfortunately the Bengali psyche has recently been vitiated in suffocating mists of amnesia. The Bengali community achieved the citadel of honour and dignity by virtue of their exceptional talent and sensibilities throughout the 20th Century. But it is a lamentable fact that while arriving in the 21st Century, the same Bengali communities have become pale penumbra of its glorious legacy because of its self-negation by being prisoners of their religious fundamentalism. In such tough moment of crisis the epitaph is being composed for the Bengalis of Assam. The heart wrenching truth has now become evident through the process of NRC updation that we do no longer have the path finders like Rabindranath, Nazrul, Deshabandhu Chittaranjan and Netaji Subhas. Neither do we have Nihar Ranjan Roy, nor Badaruddin Umar. Likewise we donot have any more Sharat Kumar Basu and Abul Hasim. The Bengali identity is never negated in beards and braided hair; but this basic fact is now being over shadowed under the illusion of whats upp and facebook. At this very moment the Bengalis are both under internal and external seize and that is why they are allowing themselves to be the easy prey of continuous brainwashing. Thus contagious sickness is further sharpened through self-deceit to the extent of almost the point of no return. In the post-partition India, internal colonialism has initiated the process of Bengali-hunting carnival in Assam. Tomorrow and beyond the very process might be initiated in Tripura, West Bengal and many other states. But nowhere there is any awareness. Even in West Bengal itself, of late, the voices of intolerance are becoming more and more intensified. That is why Assam has been taken up as the laboratory by the state power. The most important truth is not being considered by any one that all the descendants of undivided India are logically and legally Indians. Even if their parents or grandparents might have migrated from one region to another, very much under the geographical domain of undivided India for whatever reason, no one can deprive them of their Indian identity. If the Assamese hegemonism has been over zealous in obliterating the fundamental truth by making use of racial hatred and intolerance as destructive weapons, we wonder why the Indian ruling class is encouraging them relentlessly? We are also perplexed to note that the celebrated conscience of Indian elites is under paralytic stupor! For whom then is India? If the dark forces achieve success in Assam with racial hatred, animosity and intolerance, who would then listen to the much proclaimed sermons regarding national integrity?

This discourse is being prepared on 30th June, the date of judgment as it were for the Bengalis of Assam when the predetermined outcome of Bengali- hunting was scheduled to be published. For the time being the date has been extended to 8th July (however on 2nd July, the honourable supreme court has allowed an extension till 30th July). This opportunity has been seized by the champions of hate campaign against the Bengalis in Guwhati and various other places of Brahmaputra valley in the form of mad, ugly and collective frenzy. But this xenophobia is never reported in the national newspapers not to speak of the Bengali dailies of West Bengal. But we have not yet forgotten the excellent sensitive role of the famous dalies of Kolkata during the epic struggle of upholding the honour of mother tongue in 1961. It is a pity that very few of those dailies have taken their positions beside their own linguistic community when they are on the verge of annihilation through the process of NRC updation which thereby has generated great apprehension of a holocaust more intensely destructive than the partition of mother India. This is baffling that the media is even now paralysed on the spell of icy silence. On the one hand there is over whelming impact of globalization and on the other there is the position of religious fundamentalism. It seems that the talent and sensibility of the Bengalis are suspended between scylla and charybdis. Otherwise why they are taking no note of the fact that several fundamental principles of Indian constitution and preconditions of human rights are being trampled ruthlessly in Assam ? Can one imagine that in one of the provinces of the foremost democratic country of the world, the erstwhile members of the secessionist ULFA threatening in a public meeting at Guwahati that one thousand youth would invade Barak valley from Brahmaputra Valley in order to establish Assamese hegemony there? We wonder whether we are still in the medieval age? Is it then the expression of their much-proclaimed Last battle of Sharaighat? Even after such blatant instigation in open public meeting, the administration has not taken any single step against such obstinate activity. However when the hapless linguistic minorities organize peaceful meetings, they are surrounded by plenty of para-military forces! This raises the question: Is it our independent India when, because of our Bengali identity, the self-proclaimed antinationals can also easily terrorise them?

This reminds me of a well known Urdu couplet: ‘our thousand words and your only one response of not listening even once!’ That is why in the manner of Hitlars’ Germany, detention camps are prepared for the Bengalis. This administration is so inhuman that not even an old lady of 103 years, Unmati Bala, and old person of 102 years named Chandradhar and many other sickly senior persons, women and children are not spared from their cruelty. Even after such wanton disregard of human rights, the so-called champions of democracy prefer to remain silent. But this is the undeniable basic truth that in a civilized human society, all the inhabitants are sons and daughters of the soil. It is a great pity that this fundamental truth is being disregarded in Assam most nonchalantly. Now it is an open secret that many names will be omitted from the first draft NRC published on 31.12.2017 when the final draft will be published. Yes indeed. The draft NRC being prepared on the basis of partially existent documents (like the scarcely available 1951 NRC and imperfect 1966 electoral  roll) is not expected to  include the names of the non-Assamese linguistic minorities (especially the Bengalis)

Otherwise how can the cardinal truth pronounced in 194, that is, Assam is only for the Assamese, would become true?

The writer is former vice chancellor of Assam University, Silchar.

The essay was originally published in Bengali in 3 July 2018 issue of the Ajkaal daily newspaper published from Kolkata. The original version is available here.

Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: