By Deben Bachaspatimayum
Many of us seem to be enjoying to share the news of ‘fresh killing’ in Kokrajhar. It could be for reasons of satisfying sentiments of indigenous community but dead bodies are on both sides. It is a battle of life and death: Survival for both the communities. The fire is on, it is wise to stand out of that safely and if one can do anything it is good to save others who might also be burnt in the fire…spreading the message of fresh killings may motivate further killing. It is good to step back and reflect: Why is this happening? What future holds for us? Who are we killing one another?
What is happening in Assam has many underlying causes. Those who we call ‘illegal migrants’ today were/are not our enemies. Manipur, Assam, Tripura, and Bengal were and are part of a center of cultural civilization, slowly and gradually influencing diverse cultural streams from east and west, and integrating with southeast Asian cultural civilization from the east. We all are part of this great confluence of two great civilizations – a meeting point of Indo-Aryan and SE Asian cultural traditions.
British had their own ways of running their colonies we came became their subject. But, what went wrong is independent India retaining almost all of the colonial laws and adding to that a more devastating religious intolerance ‘communal element’ in building the independent nation call India. This is true for Pakistan also. Both India and Pakistan economy and defense is mutually determined. If India ceases to exist today, tomorrow Pakistan will simply disappear. It will be known with some other national identity and exist for a different political purpose. Imagine, if there was no partition-1947 in the western and eastern frontiers it would have been a different India to live and enjoy a harmony of a multi-cultural world in this part of the world.
We must stop using the word ‘illegal migrants’ for those people with who live as friends in our own neighbourhoods. Remember, Manipur had no war with Bengal or with Assam (except for linguistic issues in Assam) with Bengal (now Bangladesh) used to be our free passage to rest of the western world. Epu Irabot went this way to attend CPI conference in Bombay in 1940s. Phizo also went to the world from Dhaka. We had no problem of relations with Dhaka. Let’s stop seeing ‘enemy’ in Dhaka. People in Dhaka are never our enemy. They are our good neighbours. These words ‘illegal migrants’ and ‘Bangladesh’ being hostile country are forced upon our minds by none other than central Indian mentality that says and thinks India is Hindi or Hindu. For them poor people from B’desh is ‘enemy’. And they are right. Indian nationalism is not complete without seeing enemy in other religious communities. The same mentality have no problem when huge population of Hindu population overswarmed and marginalized the indigenous Tripurees in Tripura. They are not labelled as ‘illegal’ only because of religious identity. Escaping religious persecutions in Bangladesh (Madi in India) this is the national character of India we may not like to import in our minds because our reality is entirely different. We live in ethnic, cultural and racial contiguity and harmony.
Look at Indian congress. All that it has learnt is to play minority card to retain the power center. They are custodian of India. Congress has been creating records holding power in Assam. What the Hindu nationalists called as ‘illegal’ migrants become very cheap vote banks in Assam. If Congress were not to use this dirty number games (which is constitutional in Indian democracy) the Bodos would not have been pushed to the walls to strike back for their own survival in their own land. An MP from Assam said in the Parliament, in 14 of 27 districts ‘illegal migrants’ are voting majority. Imagine the impacts of this population on the other indigenous population in Assam.
What is common between Hindu national political parties and Indian congress party are playing economically poor cross border migrants to vote for them to rule India as they don’t have money to feed the poor – they have to make nuclear weapons for national defense. Another thing that is of serious concern us in the near is the population invasions in the indigenous ancestral lands and territories. Civil war is not a solution because in the wars the winner is not predecided. If we lose we lose everything we will not be there on the earth. Civil war must be prevented because both
parties will fight only for their survival and so destruction will devastating.
This is a very challenging moment we have to respond with a farsight. If we don’t do it now the future will not remember us. This is possible only when we do hard and creative thinkings together. What I am more convinced is that violence can no more do any good to us. We have lost many young precious lives when we should be having more to work together with greater strengths. One of the most honourable ways of doing today is engaging our adversaries in long term dialogue. Dialogue is a powerful tool to bring about deeper mutual understanding and discover humanity across. This is possible when our democratic foundation is strong and our heart sensitive and minds sharp. India is a democratic which runs the country on the principles of non-democracy. Use of army in the internal affairs and enacting ever increasing number of security related laws are the indication of non-democracy in India. This is India’s weak point and a mistake it has to admit. It has done enough damage in the name of Hindu or Muslim politics. It has to stop, reflect and envision a new democracy based on its syncretic cultural civilization. We must feel proud that people in northeastern India can only help build regional peace and security in South East Asian region. If India continues to distrust or undermine the importance of the people of NE and eye for the resources in the religion alone then the people of India may not be of any help.