Assam Bodoland Riots ~ A Humble Opinion of an Insider

large-Bodo women cry at a relief camp at Bhot Gaon village after ethnic clashes in Assam (1)

I write sitting comfortably from my home in Upper Assam. In our daily lives here, we have the least of knowledge and the least of threat from the riot which the media describes as ‘Assam Riots’. If it was not for newspapers or television, we wouldn’t have the slightest of idea about any riot or so. But when I hear the media and the government brand the whole of Assam as a place not to visit, as a place which is burning, it frustrates me. Why the whole of Assam? Why not for a change we see news that is more about reality than fiction? Why to hype the situation and make it worse? I have had people call me and ask me whether I am all right. It seems that whenever something happens somewhere in northeastern India which is a region as large as Greece, the entire media brands the whole of northeast as unsafe, like they have no clue about geography or have no common sense to measure the size of an area which is under trouble.

The truth is, only a certain part of Lower Assam is where the riots are happening; a region which is only about twenty percent of Assam, a region called Bodoland of the Bodos. The rest eighty percent of Assam is safe, as of now I would say, but if the government doesn’t open its eyes and listen to the people, much worse may come someday. The core problem of the issue, or rather, the only problem of the issue is – uncontrolled immigration. Welcome to India of the 21st century – a country of 1.2 billion people, a country which still is fool enough to allow uncontrolled illegal immigration into its highly densely populated territory. Any logical man should question – Are Indian leaders dumb? We do not have space for ourselves, why add more?

So, who’s at fault? If you want the answer of the people of Assam, we would say it is the fault of the two-faced arrogant leadership of India’s ruling government of Congress. In their arrogance, they are not ready to listen to anybody; not civil rights groups, not the opposition, not the blogs and news, nobody! It is a theatrical democracy that prevails in India, and it is far away from what the makers of Indian Constitution would have dreamed. The issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh entering into Assam has since long been happening. The other northeastern states have also been affected by it. It started way back in the 70’s, when the then ruling Congress government, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, gave free land to many people from Bangladesh, and created settlements throughout northeastern India for them. It was a move out of despair of losing the elections, a smart move that any smart and cunning politician is capable of making. By allowing Bangladeshis to settle in northeastern India, and by providing them voter’s card to vote, Congress had ensured a permanent fix of votes, like a syringe of a concentrated dose that would act as a catalyst to their rise to power. And since then, since the last three decades, this influx of illegal Bangladeshis into Indian Territory has continued unchecked. And every once a while, there are riots here and there in northeastern India – indigenous people fighting for their land, fighting for their culture to continue. Only this time around, the news has managed to be highlighted.

The state of Assam is more serious. If illegal immigration continues here for a few more decades, ethnic cleansing would not be far away. In-fact, a governor of Assam in late nineties had written then to the head officials who sat at New Delhi, warning them that a situation would come where the whole of northeast will boil someday if illegal immigration was not checked soon. As usual, the government arrogantly ignored the warning, like they were least bothered about the people of Assam. It is not a fault of Bangladeshis. They are just pawns of the big game. The rabbit hole goes deep down, somewhere where the core system needs to be changed and rebuilt.

And as media continues to hype the situation, they’re ending up making matters worse. The truth as of now is – other than Bodoland, the rest of Assam and northeastern India is safe. It will be best if media focuses on Bodoland, and not brand the whole of Assam as riot-torn. The reports tell of more than 500,000 people left displaced and homeless, like a sorry tale from war torn Africa. It is all bullshit! I have been to Bodoland myself, and imagining 500,000 homeless people in Bodoland is ridiculous.  The region is sparsely populated and there is no way such a massive situation can even exist.

On the other hand, it is absolutely true there are many thousands of them out there who need help and are suffering. And the prayers go out to each one them. All an insider can do, is hope the government wakes up, accepts the reality of the situation, and ensures the borders are sealed like they should be.

In a relief camp, an old lady of the Bodo Tribe mourns the loss of her native land.