CAA: Yet Again, Assam Pays The Price For A Democratic Dictatorship

Human rights have been trampled upon and the Assam Accord blown to smithereens.

Assam’s current spark of revolution will lay witness as the epicentre of what is going to be a country wide wake up call.”

As Assam burns, Tripura protests, and more than 7 protesters die as a result of the ongoing protests against the notorious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind gleefully gives his assent to the draconian Bill, turning it into an Act.

While the majority of India receives it as the same old religious anxiety, it is not the real reason why people from the northeast are protesting.

The northeast and particularly Assam, has faced the wrath of illegal immigrants through the porous borders of Bangladesh ever since Independence and the mandate of indigenous Assamese people from Day 1 has been very clear: to make Assam free of these illegal migrants, be it any religion, any caste, any community.

In a multitude of processes over the past 45 years of making the common voices heard from the corner pocket of mainland India to the ever sleeping Central powers and bring notice to the ever blindfolded national media, close to 1,000 brave hearts have already attained martyrdom, the educational years of many has already lost, demographics has already been altered and identity crises have already been pushed to a non-repairable stage.

Scenes from an anti-CAA protest by Hyderabad’s Assamese community. (Photo: নাথ ৰাজশ্ৰী/Facebook)

To put this into context, the Great Assam Movement, which was resolved with the Assam Accord of 1985, was a backlash against the great influx of Bangladeshi refugees which contested the native Assamese speaking people creating an uprising of Bangla speakers dividing the land, forest, and opportunities by getting the majority share.

The government at that time prevented this from happening through the Assam Accord stating that only the people who resided in the country before December 24, 1971 will be considered as Indian citizens and the rest would be weeded out. The same accord gave birth to NRC where people had to be listed in the government books to be associated as full-fledged Indian citizens.

This new Bill has brought back those fears of the indigenous people of Assam to life and has challenged the bortheastern cultural heritage which the region has every right to preserve. CAB also violates Clause 6 of the accord which states: “Constitutional, legislative, and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve, and promote the culture, social, and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

The introduction of the CAA has disrupted the previously working bill altering the cutoff date to a revolting December 31, 2014. This will favor the Hindu Bangla speaking refugees, creating the same scenario which the Assamese people stood against. The CAA serves as an open invitation to the Hindu population of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan that they will be welcomed in India. (The Hindu population of Bangladesh was recorded to be around 1,40,00,000).

In order to restore order and stop the regional mutiny, the Indian government has imposed shallow and misleading exemptions for the northeast. Assam has only 3 regions exempted under the bill, leaving a major chunk of the population still in effect of the bill. On the other hand, Tripura’s situation is even worse where 2/3rd of the total population will be still processed under the bill after the exemption is made.

The fact should be clear that the Assamese community is neither fighting for any religious propaganda nor demanding any unrealistic government demands. They are fighting for their language and cultural identity, similar to what they did 30 years before.

Right now, army deployment in Assam has increased manifold and is expected to rise even more in the coming days. The internet is shut due to precautionary measures, and hundreds of correctional officers were stationed across the protest-struck regions of Assam, Guwahati, Tripura, Mizoram and more. Curfew was imposed on Dibrugarh, roads are blocked in Golaghat, protests are taking place in Tripura bazaar, and rally marches are conducted in Siliguri. These are only a few examples of the tide of revolts.

Army personnel are storming the roads, firing tear gas, and entering educational institutions in the name of protectionist measures. Protesters are confronted by heavy beating and asked to run back to their houses. We need to address this terrible situation and come up with a better way to accommodate everyone.

A place like Assam with a long history of struggles related to the exact issue was the last possible place to home these immigrants. An even distribution of population and land allocation should have been the right approach but the reckless decision to dump every immigrant in northeast is a threat to national integrity.

The situation in Assam is a mirror image of Kashmir and an act of government anarchy imposed upon its residents. This brings us to the question: why would a new immigrant want to enlist as an Indian citizen when the country is pointing a gun at its own natives?

Featured image source: Suren Abreu/Facebook.
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