Dear brothers and sisters,
I am extremely disturbed, and I want to reach out to each and every one of you dealing with this tough situation. It took me a few days to get my head around the issue of a mob lynching at Karbi Anglong. However, today I feel like penning down my thoughts and conveying them to you. Maybe you can take it as an outsider’s perspective, an outsider who is closely following the issue from a distance, an outsider who also happens to be an Assamese.
If we look at the issue objectively, the Karbis felt threatened and assumed that these two men were child-lifters who would take away their children. This piece covers the practical issues that we need beyond justice.
Why did the Karbis feel threatened?
1. “Their physical appearances, she claimed, matched the descriptions she had heard about child lifters: men who dressed as women.”
This is ignorance that results from the lack of mainstream visibility of a community. This is the result of not including the far ends of the northeast in mainstream discussions, not having enough connectivity to the main cities and most importantly, lack of education. Till we do not address this, justice will ensure fear but fear might not work when people’s close ones feel threatened.
2. “We have also heard that in their car, there were needles and knives.”
They could not distinguish between musical instruments and weapons. This is clearly due to lack of exposure and education.
3. “There had been a viral social media rumour doing the rounds in the area about child lifters, and these boys had appearances that nobody in the village had probably come across before.”
They did not know how to use social media. They did not know that social media could mislead and they obviously did not think of questioning the authenticity of social media posts.
I agree with all of you that we need justice but what I do not agree to is boycotting an entire community. There is so much work to be done. We need to bring them into the mainstream. Education plays such a crucial role and these issues make my heart cry out and my head bowed down as I call myself a development professional.
Let’s not break our state in the name of regional communities, let us not reiterate stereotypes by calling names, let us not turn the situation into xenophobia but let us all come together to address the need of the hour. Apart from justice, let us demand for rights that will ensure that this situation does not happen again. Let us make Nilotpal and Abhijeet the names that showed us the light to bring more development to the state.
I join you to extend my prayers for the departed souls and wish for strength to their families. More strength to all their friends and the justice movement.