Assam is again in the news for wrong reasons. More than 70 migrant labourers and Hindi speaking non-Assamese, some whose forefathers made the state their home decades back, even 100 years back, have been hacked to death in the most gruesome manner. These massacres have shocked the civil society beyond description as they bode ill for the very integrity of India. There is widespread condemnation of these anti-national and anti-human acts which are perpetrated by United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). This reminds us of the killing field of Assam, when 25 years back Nellie in Nogaon district witnessed massacre of about 2,000 Bengali speaking Muslims. A certain political party was busy at that time sowing seads of suspicion, hatred and communalism. Other political parties also fished in the troubled waters as state’s Assembly elections followed. The corrective steps were not taken in right earnest as unfortunate murdered men, women and children belonged to the marginalized Muslim community.
It is unfortunate that Assam is again witnessing the same atmosphere of hatred and we do not know where it will lead us to. ULFA’s terror tactics and thoughtless killing of innocents has made thousands of Biharis and other non-Assamese to flee from the state. The plight of these hapless and uprooted person, may give rise to resentment and undesirable reactions in Bihar and other places they are fleeing to with their painful tales of fear and sufferings.
It is a welcome step that the governments both at the centre and the state have categorically declared that they would not bow to acts of violence and terrorism. The central Government has rushed 10,000 para military forces and payment of Rupees Two Lakh to every victim’s kith and kin is also being made. This is not enough. You cannot police the entire population or control a state with the help of military alone. Meaningful efforts for confidence building also must be undertaken. All those persons who have been forced to flee should be brought back and assured that they would be protected at any cost. Nobody, no organization or ethnic group has the right to preach hatred against them or evict them from their dwelling places. They are not lesser human beings and not less entitled to settle in Assam or anywhere in the length and breadth of this country. The whole country belongs to God alone and has been bestowed upon every countryman who is born in this land according to the will of God. Our democratic constitution assures that every citizen of this country has a right to equal status and opportunity. Liberty, equality and fraternity are the cardinal principles upon which the edifice of Indian nationhood stands. Any one who harms these fundamental principles is the worst enemy of this country.
In these troubled times in Assam our media must play a constructive role. It should not indulge in sensationalism in these dark and critical moments. Don’t exaggerate, don’t twist facts. Do not support secessionists, fascists and communalists who are already out to fish in the troubled waters.
It is praiseworthy that common people in Assam do not approve the reign of terror let loose by ULFA as has been indicated by a recent opinion poll. The common man in Assam has warm feelings of brotherhood and good neighborliness for non-Assami human being. He sincerely recognises the contribution the settlers have made towards socio-economic development of the state. It is only self-seeking politicians and a few bands of misguided elements who are stoking the fire of hatred to peruse their parochial agenda. They should be shown their proper place in the pluralistic India.
The social organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiatul Ulema Hind and all Muslims as a community must play the positive role of building bridges of understanding and forging human bonds. A vast country like India, with great diversities and multi-ethnic contours can not afford to tolerate narrow mindedness and parochialism. A country does not become strong by military strength or economic progress alone. Greatness is achieved through love, cooperation, amity and fellow feelings among citizens. These are the qualities which we require and Assam requires most. No doubt ULFA must be engaged in a dialogue and its misgivings should be addressed and grievances redressed, but more important is the promotion of amity, good will and friendship. The use of force to quell violence must be balanced with constant efforts towards promoting confidence, love and trust among different ethnic group of Assam.