Skip to main content

Why resentment among North-East's Dimasa people about their inclusion in Nagalim is spreading

Jagdamba Mal
By Nava Thakuria*
As the alternate media expands its reaches to hundred thousand Indians across the country, thanks to increasingly cheaper internet connectivity, its restraint and liability also start surfacing in public discourses. The limitation and gradually losing credibility of the mainstream media may pave the way for a boosting alternate media, but it is still miles apart from the trustworthiness among users.
In fact, voluminous media coverage in Assam following the relentless rumour, continued uncertainty and inherent fear had recently resulted in the elimination of two innocent lives along with severe injuries to few others and also stranding of thousand railway passengers for days in different isolated locations.
The rumour of incorporating many parts of Assam including the Dima Hasao district in the greater Nagaland (Nagalim) continued to hunt the people of Assam since the virtual end of Naga movements. The proposed Nagalim continues to claim many areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and also northern Myanmar localities. The uncertainty over the government actions remains fully intact as the content of Naga Framework Agreement is yet to be made public.
The Union government in New Delhi signed the agreement on 3 August 2015 with the influential Naga armed outfit (Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-IM), when Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself announced the peace deal through the social media. With this background of anxiety and worries, a report was published in a reputed portal indicating that Dima Hasao district in central Assam may be incorporated in Nagalim.
Contributor Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty in her report titled ‘Revealed: RSS Draft Plan for Nagaland Accord’ quoted Jagdamba Mal, an understood Rashrtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue based in Nagaland for decades and tried to authenticate it. The trouble-stricken Dima Hasao, which is an autonomous district constituted under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution, homes to Dimasa tribe people with a sizable Naga population.
Since eighties, the district witnessed various ethnic insurgent outfits and most notorious was the Jewel Garlosa led Dima Halam Daogah, which once terrorized the entire district. The content of The Wire might have reached few readers, but the same story was reproduced by a section of local (read Assamese) newspapers and satellite news channels to attract the attention of hundred thousand residents of the State. Soon the resentments among the Dimasa people about their inclusion in Nagalim surfaced and it grew abruptly.
Various agitating Dimasa groups including the Jadikhe Naisho Hoshom, All Dimasa Students Union, Dimasa Mother Association and Dimasa Women Society etc. called for a series of protest rallies across the hills district, where the local political party representatives also participated. The agitators demanded a clarification from the governments over the matter at the earliest. One such public protest in front of Maibong railway station on 25 January turned violent.
The police resorted to firings as the protesters started vandalism at the railway properties. Two tribal agitators namely Mithunjay Dibragede and Prabin Hakmaosa were killed in police firings, where as ten others received injuries. The killings were condemned widely and strikes continued in the district for days which resulted in stranding of thousand railway passengers from southern Assam with Tripura to Guwahati.
Three State ministers namely Chandra Mohan Patowary, Keshab Mahanta and Porimal Suklavaidya visited the trouble-torn district to take stock of the situation. They also met the victim families and assured possible government supports at the earliest. Amidst the chaos, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal invited a group of Dimasa civil society representatives and reiterated the government’s stand that not a single inch of Assam land would be ceded for Nagalim.
Assuring the delegation of civil society groups in presence of Dima Hasao Autonomous Council chief Debalal Garlosa on 30 January, Sonowal categorically stated that the State's territorial integrity would not be harmed. Mentioning about his telephonic conversations with Union home minister Rajnath Singh, the chief minister declared that even no satellite council or special development authority of Nagalim would also be allowed in Assam.
Sonowal informed that necessary steps were taken to provide appropriate government jobs to close relatives of both the victims (of police firings) and free treatment to those injured in the incident. The State government has already constituted a one man committee headed by the State’s additional chief secretary VB Pyarelal to inquire into the circumstances that led to violence and subsequent police firings.
Public angers however continued for days and it was visible in a massive protest rally organized at Maibong locality later in presence of AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, ABSU general secretary Pramod Boro with many others. Jagdamba Mal, who is facing a formal police complaint in Assam, lately clarified that he personally put some suggestions to settle the six decade long Naga antipathy, but the concerned reporter blew the content ‘out of proportion’. Mal declared that he was not a RSS member. So his suggestions were ‘nothing to do with the RSS or the BJP governments’.
India, out of its over one billion population, houses nearly 200 million smart-phone users. As the internet connections turn relatively cheaper in the country, more and more upper and middleclass nationals start possessing the net connection and it finally helps growing the number of alternate media browsers. Meanwhile, expressing serious concern over the recent unpleasant incidents in Dima Hasao following few media contents, a scribe’s forum appealed to the common people to be judicious over reacting to media reports.
Demanding a regulatory authority over the alternate media, the Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) also urged the government to empower the press council with the inclusion of electronic and social media. “While the concerned portal should have reported the matter with right perspective, the vernacular news outlets must have authenticated the facts before publishing the news item,” said Rupam Barua, president of JFA.
He also added that those newspapers might have recognized the news portals as trustworthy as the established news agencies and so found it logical to use the content of the portal over a sensitive issue without verification. Once we have a powerful media council, Barua asserted that this kind of flaws could be addressed more efficiently.
---
*Guwahati (northeast India) based journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people. 

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.