August 30, 2012 by Parthajeet
There are rumours in Guwahati that US marines have drones hovering over Guwahati, controlled from the Borjhar airport. A few buildings have recently been bombed, on allegedly being terrorist hideouts. The airport has American fighter jets, ready to be scrambled in a jiffy. The airport is like a fortress and inaccessible to civilians, and buzzing with activity. It looks like a scene out of Afghanistan in 2005.
Will parts of the Assam look like this in 2040? Will the next Sept 11 be planned there and the Americans take over Assam to ‘wipe out terrorism’? Let us see how things are unfolding.
Post India’s independence, states were reorganized in India largely on the basis of Language (and culture). East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh) and Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion. So what largely brings in a sense of belonging to a state in India is largely language (and partly culture). Even a restaurant in Mumbai once gave discounts to Maharastrians (defined by them as those who could speak the state language, Marathi). In the seventies in Assam, on a broad level, the Assamese culture was inclusive in nature and Hindus, Muslims and others thrived in peace on account of a common language (and culture). The assam agitation (1979-1985) was an ‘anti-Bangladeshi’ movement to free Assam from the unabated influx of thousands of illegal migrants. It was supported by Assamese muslims.
The illegal migrants, over a period of time, became a majority in several districts of Assam. Their sheer numbers encouraged them to resist any urge or temptation to assimilate into the Assamese culture or learn the language. Over a period of time, the Assamese saw the illegal migrants as ‘different’/not Assamese as they spoke different, ate different, lived different. And then they took over arable land, and the volcano erupted.
The laws of the land and the ineffective implementation of the Assam Accord of 1985 ensured that the illegal migrants, over a period of time, grew in numbers and voice. They even have their elected representatives in the government now. Elected representatives? Yes! But of course, on paper, they are legally Indians.
Now think about it, what can be on the election speeches of such candidates? Their strongest point of difference can be ‘protection of the illegal migrants’, with which they win election. They cannot win election by promising to bring Suzuki to Assam or by opening an IT park in Assam. So they have and will continue to say things which unite the illegal migrants. Because such politicians gain by keeping the illegal migrants indifferent to Assamese culture and not assimilating them, such speeches are inflammatory in nature.
Going back to the formation of East Pakistan on religious lines, the leaders thus tend to bring in religion when convenient. When religion is brought it, such leaders also secure support from peers in other parts of the world, thus gaining ‘sympathy’ for a so called ‘religious minority’, who are actually a majority today. This is further taken advantage of by other such leaders in various parts of India (and across the border) to improve their stock and paint the issue as a ‘Hindu vs Muslim’ problem. They play the religion card vehemently for the sake of votes. Interestingly this time around (the recent Bodo vs illegal migrants trouble), many of the affected people were Christians, and no one spoke about this.
Now leaders who play along religious lines, know very well that religious tensions are like a volcano. So violence was seen in Mumbai, Lucknow and other places post the trouble in Assam. Thousands of people and the North East fled from these locations, fearing for the lives, on the basis of rumours spread by these leaders. Here is a case where millions of Indians fear for their own lives in their own country when millions of illegal migrants can easily get their Indian passport made. If this isn’t a national security threat, then what is?
So these leaders stroke the fire once in a while for their advantage, knowing well that too much stroking may lead to carnage like the ones that was seen in the 1993 riots across the country. So they do just about enough to gain temporarily from any event like the recent Assam riots. However the danger of this is that, such things are not always in their control…it is like Frankenstein, you never know when it will eat you up and things get out of control. Because successive governments have been silent and not done anything about sealing the border with Bangladesh, the chances of such a flare up at a national level is high. It may not happen now, but it may happen in the near future, as what we have seen in Assam is the tip of the iceberg.
Thanks to dirty politics and misleading speeches by politicians who play along religious lines, it is not highly improbable that fanatics get encouraged to export terrorism of the Sept 11 kind in the future. If that happens, and Assam is actually ruled by an illegal migrant in 2040, American troops landing in Guwahati or in some other part of India is not unlikely. New Delhi, think. Act.