Wednesday, 12 March 2014

When Self realisation speaks!

The north east and Assam in particular, of late, has been experiencing protests over the creation of separate states. Not that this sort of protests and agitation is anything new to Assam, because the state as a whole, has been there and witnessed that, in the 80's, during the famous "Assam Agitation". What is rather frustrating now, is that these protests and agitations are not a mass movement, but rather localised to certain pockets. 

To understand this better the following facts should help.

After India gained independence in 1947, the north east comprised of only three states, namely, Manipur and Tripura, which were princely states and a larger Assam, which was till independence, under the British rule. The years that followed after independence, saw the reorganisation of four new states carved out of the original territory of Assam. This was in line with the Indian governments' policy of creating newer states along ethnic and linguistic lines. Thus, Nagaland gained statehood in 1963, followed by Meghalaya in 1972 and Mizoram a Union Territory in the same year. Finally in 1987, both Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh gained statehood. A closer look at these stats, shows the northeastern region, barring Assam, to be a very young region, still coming to grips with governance and self-preservation. But not Assam.

While the six other states are more or less homogeneous in their ethnicity, the same cannot be said about Assam. Right across its length and breadth, this state is a myriad of cross cultural, ethnic and linguistic inhabitants. From the Ahoms, Adivasis, Bodos, Chutias, Morans and Muttocks to the Koch-Rajbonshis, each of these ethnic groups are striving to have their voices of heard through whatever means available. This is the crux of the matter, which is unique to the state of Assam.

The situation becomes even more acute when, in the name of a separate identity, these ethnic groups resort to protests and agitations that almost holds the rest of the state to ransom. This is typical to the Koch-Rajbonshis and the Bodos. Concentrated only in areas that fall in the entry point to Assam and the north east as a whole, the agitations carried on by these groups disrupts the normal rail and road communications. The modus operandi? Thousands of agitators congregating and squatting on the rail tracks or blocking highways, completely throwing rail and road communications out of gear! These protests are not short, impromptu bursts of enthusiasm but rather well thought out programmes, running into hours. Little do these agitators realise the fall-out their protests would have, not only on their own everyday life but the region as a whole. To garner the support and sympathy across all strata of society, any mass movement must not alienate others who are not directly related to the struggle. But the opposite seems to be happening in the case of the Bodos and the Koch-Rajbonshis.  

This is not to suggest that, what these two ethnic groups are doing is wrong. On the contrary, they are absolutely within their constitutional rights to fight for their self-preservation and self-realisation. But not at the cost of putting a much larger populace in a mental frame of uncertainty and harassment. 

The leaders of these groups should go back to their drawing boards, re-think their strategies and come out with a workable and acceptable formula to achieve their ends. The present style of road and rail blockade is most undesirable!

Self realisation is not selfish or is it?

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