‘3 states’ of Affairs

Friday, 22 November 2019

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‘3 states’ of Affairs

Swapnil Bharali | January 13, 2019 10:13 hrs


Two formidable rivers forming two expansive valleys, some magnificent hills, lakes, forests et al make for this wondrous land called Assam - a state of the Indian Union whose boundaries were carved out by the States Reorganization Commission in 1956 on linguistic lines as was any other state. Despite the massive diversity in the demography contained within it, the inhabitants of this state were called Assamese.

 

Today, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB) tabled in Parliament and passed in the Lok Sabha recently and the uneasy consequences thereafter have thrown up some factors about Assam that need serious discussion and revisit. Clearly, the state is not unified any more (was it ever?)  with three distinct diverse entities (mercifully each contained within three distinct geographical areas) emerging as a consequence of the deliberations over the CAB – the Brahmaputra Valley, the Barak Valley and the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts. And this divide is clearly on linguistic lines with these areas being dominated by Assamese, Bengali and Bodo speaking peoples respectively.

 

Barak Valley being Bengali dominated has always supported the CAB and Silchar is where PM Modi made his party’s intentions with regard to the CAB final. Quick on the heels of the Asom Gana Parishad quitting the state BJP-led government, was the divisive salvo fired by the Bodoland People’s Front that they would continue to support the state government’s position with the rider that no immigrant would find place within the area of its Council. That left only the Brahmaputra Valley to burn and fret over the turn of events.

While it may safely be assumed that the emotional division of Assam is complete, it is perhaps time for the formation of another States Reorganisation Commission at least for the sake of everlasting peace in Assam. This current forcible patchwork where the seams keep coming apart is getting us nowhere. Today, the seams seem beyond repair with indigenous Assamese students studying in Assam University, Silchar being threatened of serious consequences should they voice even a murmur of protest against the CAB. And the fact that lakhs of Bangladeshis are the requirement of the day so that indigenous Assamese can hold the posts of MLAs has created a situation where making this great mockery of ourselves is painful to accept.

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