By Mihika Jindal:
India, a nation that changes culture and lifestyles in every subsequent short span of distance, is proclaimed as an enriched nation which provides for an augmented experience of varied topographies and ethos. We pride ourselves in being united in diversity. If we ponder upon it, the dream encapsulated in our Constitution of Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, which was conceived by the architects of Independent India, has it been achieved at any level? I am afraid not. Every state, inhabited by different ethnic groups, led by a particular leader, suffers a level of typicality coupled with eccentricity, which reaches particularly high levels of expression and action during the elections. With general elections 2014 being recorded as one of the most dynamic, sure to make it to pages of history, it is stirring every part of the country. The gruesome incident that has claimed innocent lives in Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) in Assam is a glorious example of being gripped by one such stir.
The areas of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalgiri together make BTAD in Assam, which is reined over by the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) headed by Hagrama Mohilary. Mayhem was unleashed on May 1st, post the polling in BTAD area, claiming over 30 innocent lives, majority of which were women and children. While the state is playing its part, the burden of incident is being played Ping-Pong with by all political parties and leaders.
The havoc was unleashed by the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), when they barged into houses in villages of Kokrajhar and Baksa and brought down houses to ashes. The state was put in strict curfew till last Monday which was eventually release as no fresh incidents were reported. Inhabitants of BTAD have lived in constant turmoil owing to rampant discord between bodos and non-bodos. Even though the area is inhabited by majority of Muslim speaking Bengalis, BPF has been in power ever since the second peace accord was signed with the Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) in 2003. The situation took a U-turn this election when BPF had to face the insecurity of losing its seat in Kokrajhar and being trampled over by Heera Sarnia, a reformed ULFA militant, who is contesting the elections from Kokrajhar as an independent candidate. With his strong idealistic assertions that he is not fighting to defeat any political party or an individual but only to protect and support the rights that are denied to non-bodo population of BTAD, he seems to have gained instant popularity and support amongst the people.
While congress continued to blame NaMo for this instance in light of his statement against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, BJP activists retorted back blaming this on congress on the pretext of their usual game-plan of divisive politics wherefrom they have been procuring votes and creating caste/region based vote banks since ages. However, another key responsibility is being slapped on the BPF leader Pramila Rani Brahma’s provocative statement as she apprehends that the Muslim migrants did not vote for BPF.
Amidst all the political blame game, the state has extended to increase the security forces and requested the center to provide for paramilitary forces to pacify the panic stricken people who have fled away, to avoid witnessing a DÃ©jÃ vu of 2012 episode that painted the area red with blood. The state has further announced a judicial probe into the incident and Tarun Gogoi, CM Assam, has assured that the miscreants will not be pardoned. The area is now under constant surveillance and flag marched by Army to instill confidence in people. State level Crisis Management Group has also reviewed the situation and directed the security forces to launch intensive drive to cease all illegal weapons in BTAD. As also demanded by the students of AMU, the state is offering compensation to the families of deceased and assuring proper rehabilitation to the displaced families.
It is most unfortunate that under the aegis of the state government, the residents are weighed in the scales of superficial parameters of religion, castes and the like as against being fellow country-men — a true failure of democracy and secularism. Bordering on the thin line of political and communal victimisation, people of BTAD have been putting up with exceptionally hostile conditions, rightfully expecting the government to play an active and corrective role to stop the ongoing and potential activities in the region.
It’s time to realize that we the people are the source of democracy and each of our votes and voice has to be counted. It’s time to demand the change that will mark the beginning of the golden era where India will progress from being developing to developed instead of moving in the reverse gear. With the count-down already have begun to result of the general elections, let’s keep our fingers crossed and may the best candidate win!