Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Chicken Coop Syndrome

Most Bengalis are non-vegetarians and along with fish(their first love) they love to eat chicken. I too love to eat chicken;but one of these days, I think I will stop eating chicken. Why? Simple because whenever I go to buy chicken in the market I can not ignore the analogy between the Chicken in the Coop and we, Bengali Hindus.

The chickens(half-dead,shitting on each)are stuffed inside their coops while their Brothers and Sisters are being slaughtered just in front of them. They watch,they peck each other but nobody has the courage to break the Coop. The stench of their dead brethern's blood,guts fill the air. Yet,they just wait for their turn. They had resigned themselves to this fate. The same is true for the Bengali Hindus who talk and talk but are wary of any Bengali who might suggest them to Break the Coop. For them, the Coop is UnBreakable being moulded from an outer space material.

To top it all,a Bengali is very wary if he comes across another Bengali who might have views that he had never been able to fathom because every pathetic Bengali thinks he is the epitome of everything worthy to know. And he will instantly do what we do best-humiliate him,demoralise him,downgrade him. And then he (the pathetic Bengali) knows he has done it and would boast about it.

There will be many who will strongly disagree to whom I would suggest to find out how the very first warriors of Islam entered Bengal. And yes there were sparks amongst us but not the entire race had ever wanted to Break the Coop.

And I would like to mention that there are more Bengali Hindus than either the Germans or the Russians and yet they had only learned to Lament.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Who is an Assamese?

A never-ending debate is going on in Assam as to who is an Assamese. This simple question has eluded unanswered since a long time. This has become all the more important as Assam Accord that was signed in 1985 proposes to give some constitutional safeguards to the Assamese people. But no one is able to find the Assamese people. Bodos,a large and assertive indigenous plain tribe of Assam, is totally anathema to the use of the word Assamese to identify themselves. They had been fighting for decades now to have a separate state of their own comprising the areas of North Bank of Brahmaputra and many youths of the tribe had lost their lives in this struggle. Currently Bodos enjoy limited autonomy in some districts that are called BODOLAND TERRITORIAL AUTONOMOUS DISTRICTS and those districts remain edgy-violence breaks out every now and then there.

Other tribal groups of Assam like Tiwas,Karbis,Dimasas,Misings etc,are also not ready to identify themselves as Assamese.

The Muslims of East Bengal origin are willing to be called as Assamese but ethnic Assamese Hindus are not willing to accommodate them. These Muslims are hardy people and agriculture remains their mainstay and they live in some of the most difficult areas of the state. But they learned to speak chaste Assamese and send their children to Assamese medium school. Many of them write,speak and read better Assamese than ethnic caste Assamese. It is an irony to note that the entire Assamese middle class (almost exclusively) send their children to English medium schools while at the same time they are quite willing to slash throats(read non-Assamese ones) if they believe that an alleged affront to the Assamese language had been done. In Assam, it is often seen that groups of people (mostly well-dressed males) are roaming on the streets and darkening the hoardings that is mostly written in English.
They are angry because those hoardings and billboards should have in Assamese. Many summers and winters have passed and I do not see any change-Billboards continue to be in English;though many are in Assamese also.

Assam is also home to large number of Nepalis;who came as Mercenaries and Chowdikars of the British Raj.It is imperative to remember that Nepal has never been part of India and yet, none seems to be in the know about it-a curious case of collective dementia. Nepalis have no sense of pride in their language and culture simply because they did not have the means to develop them. They were more focused to find their next meal than anything else. I think most Assamese would have no problems in accommodating them in their definition of Assamese.

Now,comes the Hindi-speaking populace of the state,which includes the economically influential group called the Marwaris and people of Bihar origin. Both these groups can't be included as Assamese as very few amongst them (even after being in Assam for generations) can speak or write good Assamese.

Now comes the Bengali Hindus,the bulk of whom are of East Bengal origin, who are not willing to let go their pride in Bengali culture and literature,even though they have faced catastrophe in the last century. Thought the bulk of them are yet unable to speak chaste Assamese; a growing number of the youths are able to converse quite confidently in Assamese. But the caste Assamese Hindu will never allow Bengali Hindus of Assam to be accommodated into the Assamese fold. One of the many reasons is that both compete for the same white collar jobs.

Recently,there was talk about defining the Assamese people by taking the NRC of 1951 as the base year but there was such vociferous and belligerent protests that the idea was dropped. And caste Assamese Hindus can't take the year of 1971 to define Assamese.

And so the search for the Assamese continues.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kobane and Me

On 26th January 2015, I saw a short but terse ticker running on BBC-'IS DRIVEN OUT OF KOBANE'.The shortness of the sentence; its message has to be known-I had virtually given
off writing-but this again compelled me to write.

Islamic State has shown to the world how a small but highly motivated group can wreck havocs on professional armies. The Iraqi Army, stocked with American Humvees and tanks, collapsed without much of a fight in the face of IS attack in June2014.This feat would not have possible without planning and professional soldiers-might be Sunni soldiers' of disbanded Saddam's Army. It also wrecked havoc in Syria-I could not understand how such Professional Armies were collapsing over such wide areas; the dynamics are still beyond my comprehension.

And then they came to the town of Kobane-an unassuming town on the Syrian-Turkish border,inhabited primarily by Kurds. IS fighters rushed to the town from 3 sides in early September of 2014, sending hundreds of thousands fleeing to Turkey.Within days, IS was in control of over 70% of the city and the city's Kurdish defenders were practically no match for the IS Arsenal.They were with armed AKs and RPG. US Generals predicted that the town would fall in the next couple of days-the IS was brutally advancing.They had MBTs and Humvees and Howitzers and what the Kurds had-nothing but their determination not to surrender. And they knew they will be massacred if kobane falls.

The Kurds(and there were a large number of teenage girls in their ranks) battled the IS grimly in the rubble of the town.I saw some pictures of the devastated town on BBC site(after IS fled)-the destruction was of apocalyptic proportions. US airstrikes helped them but it was the tenacity of the Kurds, their camaraderie, their determination, and their genes which drove IS out. It was IS's first major defeat and it did not come from trained professional soldiers but rather Kurdish irregulars who were initially armed very lightly. The US dropped weapons to them after their Generals were forced to eat their own words-regarding the town's imminent fall. US would not supply weapons to a bunch of cowards. They fought house to house, street by street and in the heap of rubble and taught the IS a lesson which they will not forget in a hurry. Here I would like to mention that IS fighters were becoming reluctant to fight in Kobane as they feared that being killed by women would not guarantee them a place in heaven.

I had kept a photo published in a local newspaper here where a teenaged girl (barely 16-17) fighter proudly holding her AK goes to her place after receiving her military card(after the victory).Though she is wearing military fatigues, her innocence on the childish face is hard to ignore. I can see about 10-12 girls(barely in their 20s)in that photo, all cheerful and armed. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Difficult Days for BTAD Bengalis

The current situation in Assam is very depressing.After the riots  of 2012,there was a brief period when the situation seemed to improve for a while. Then  in the  last few  months, killings,rapes,extortion,kidnapping had reached frightenng levels. The Bengali Hindus living in the BTAD areas are once again living under very difficult conditions. Many petty traders have been killed for their failure to meet extortion demands. Some Bengali students from very poor families have been kidnapped for ransom. There are reports that some of the Bengalis there had banded themselves to form National Liberation Force of Bengalis.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Punching Bag Material

I was watching the events of July-August 2012-the situation arising out after Muslims and Bodos clashed in Kokrajhar Dist.The Muslims first killed 4 ex-BLT men on the outskirts of the Kokrajhar town and soon a deadly wave of violence spread across Kokrajhar,Dhubri and nearby districts of Lower Assam(called BTAD Areas). More than half a million people fled from their homes and took refuge in relief centres. Amidst all these the Bengali Hindus, the softest target in the ethnically diverse state of Assam, saw themselves at the receiving end from Muslims of Bengali origin. There were atleast 2 major incidents of violence against them one in Barpeta dist and another in Ambagan in Nagaon district of Central Assam. Everyone knows that we are a good punching bag material;punch them and there will be not much reaction.And whoever punches will always be called a Boxer.

There was amazingly very low key protests against  the violence directed at us.Nearly 9% of the state's population is Bengali Hindus and yet they remain meek in every sphere of the state's scenario.The state sees dominance and authority from far insignifcant numbers of tribes and community.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Dreaded Tag of D-Voter

The D-Voter tag is like a loose dart that can hit an ethnic Bengali Hindu in Assam any time. D-Voter means Doubtful Voter and this is applicable only in the state of Assam. Nowhere else in the Union of India, can anybody be tagged as D-voter. Here there are no fixed criteria/guidelines to tag someone as a D-voter. It's just dependent on the whims and fancy of a brooding Govt. official-if he deems someone Doubtful, he can tag him as a D-voter and make his/her life a living hell. Once tagged as D-Voter, it's now upon the tagged one to give proof that he is indeed a citizen of India and has the right to vote. Often those tagged a D-voter are from the very lower rung of the society;like daily wage earners or petty shopkeeper/traders -who are more concerned about their next meal than anything else. The Partition of India and its subsequent turbulent period threw out millions of Hindu Bengalis from their ancestral homeland and many ended up in the State of Assam. Initially there was not much resistance from the indigenous people of Assam; and hence many did not felt the need to get their papers right. Just after Partition, they had become too busy to keep the kitchen fires burning. But after the 60's, they knew that they were for trouble in Assam. And after the long six years of Assam Agitation, a deal was made wherein the law said that people who had migrated to Assam from East Bengal upto 25th March 1971 were legal migrants whereas those migrating after 25th March 1971 are illegal migrants. Bengali Hindus fled their homeland as victims of religious persecution perpetrated by the state, covertly or overtly. The Partition of the Subcontinent was not done thorough a referendum where Hindu Bengalis of E.Bengal had any say; it was decided in some far off land without taking our consent. Then why are we to blame for it? We choose to come and settle in an alien land-not for economic reasons but to practice our religion and culture freely. Many a times people make us feel that we are to blame ourselves for the Partition. It is really such a painful experience when ethnicities and races that had nil contribution to Indian Freedom Struggle call us-Refugees & Illegal Migrants.

Sometime back, I witnessed some Assam govt. officials along with a posse of armed policemen going around and inquiring the antecedents of specifically Bengali Hindu people living in a damp and poor section of a town in Upper Assam. They were specifically entering only Bengali Hindu homes, though there were Biharis and other ethnic people living in that area. The organised way in which they were targeting a specific group of people and asking for papers speaks about the state's attitude towards us. How long will be made to prove our antecedents and our loyalty? Where are our Human Rights?

Suspected foreigners in Assam are served notices by Assam Foreigners Tribunals to prove their citizenship. These Tribunals are notorious for their lethargic attitude in disposing off the cases. Most are located in some dusty and creepy buildings and files and replies are often misplaced. And since most of the so-called suspected foreigners tend to be poor and uneducated, they are in for long grinding process. These process many times sends them to detention camps where they are forced to live in cramped conditions and there have been instances of rapes against Bengali Hindu women lodged in these camps. Some Bengali organisations had also cropped up purportedly to defend the rights of the Bengali Hindu people in Assam. But the leaders of these organistations seem to wallow more in the glory of the posts (like Gen. Secy, President, Chairman, etc) that they are holding than doing anything worthwhile. They are far from being genuinely interested in the protection of the nearly 7 million (more than 10% of the population of Assam) Bengali people. Most of the leaders of these so-called organisations are inaccessible and poorly informed and not sophisticated. There are many rich and educated Bengali people in Assam, but they have no interest or inclination to do something for their less fortunate brethren.

And the D-voter remains there to fight a lonely battle against the powerful state mechanism, which often extracts a heavy toll on the unequal opponent-i.e. the Bengali Refugee.