Skip to main content

Government of India “ensnares” itself in Northeast, Jammu & Kashmir

By Sandeep Pandey*
First the Bhartiya Janata Party-led government in Delhi was very enthusiastic about conducting the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam on the premise that this process will identify all the illegal migrants from Bangladesh who entered Assam after March 24, 1971, the date of creation on Bangladesh, who could then be sent back to Bangladesh. The assumption was that most of these illegal immigrants would be Muslims.
However, the government developed cold feet after it realised that among the 40.07 lakhs people who have been left out of NRC the majority are not Muslims but Hindus. Now it is trying to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which will allow non-Muslim citizens from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014 to acquire Indian citizenship easily.
This Bill is facing stiff opposition from the Assamese society. Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, along with 70 other organisations has launched a frontal attack on the government.
What the BJP central leadership doesn't realise is that Assamese society is not divided on communal lines like in Gujarat, Maharashtra or portion of the Hindi speaking heartland. For Assamese people bigger fear is linguistic and cultural domination by Bengalis. Assamese society itself is a product of assimilation of locals with outsiders from diverse backgrounds.
It is not just being born into some homogenous community. But they clearly make a distinction between people who came before 1971 and those who came afterwards. Assamese nationality is as assertive as the Tamil or Bangali nationality with a distinct identity.
Meanwhile, in Assam itself the All-Bodo Students' Association under the leadership of Pramod Boro is demanding a separate statehood for Bodoland. After a long struggle Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was created in 2003 comprising four districts of Chirang, Buxa, Kokrajhar and Udlagiri. Out of 40 government departments all except Home and Finance were transferred to BTC by the Assam government.
However, the Assam government continues to maintain its stranglehold on BTC as all resolutions passed by BTC are subject to final approval of the Assam assembly, which is against the spirit of Schedule VI of Constitution as part of which BTC was created. So far except for one out of 28, all Bills passed by BTC have been stuck at the Assam assembly level.
Even though the population living in abovementioned four districts is 12% of Assam population only 2% of the state budget is allocated to BTC. Schools are being starved of teachers and textbooks in Bodo language. Same is the situation with other departments.
Rampant corruption prevents whatever little benefits can reach people. Hence Bodo people are now disillusioned and feel only as a separate state they can prosper. In recent talks with Home minister it is believed that Indian government has offered a Union Territory status to Bodoland but that is not acceptable to the Bodos.
In the neighbouring Nagaland the popular demand is for autonomy. Peace talks have been going on with the Government of India (GoI) of various Naga groups for the last 21 years without any resolution. The latest rounds of talks with the Modi government seem to have reached some conclusion. But Naga people are very clear that they want a separate Constitution and a separate flag. They see themselves living not under the Indian Constitution but in a peaceful coexistence with India.
The Nagas have never considered themselves to be part of India. They feel they were first divided into two countries – India and Myanmar – by the British and then by India into different states like Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Mizoram. They aspire for a separate sovereign identity.
However, the experience of Kashmiris with a separate Constitution has not been very good. All the promises made by the GoI the time of signing of Instrument of Accession by the Maharaja Hari Singh have been violated. The separate flag is still there but it doesn't have the sanctity the flag of a sovereign state should have. It is difficult to even obtain a copy of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Constitution now.
Articles 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution which grant a special status to J&K are there only for namesake. Famous literature personality Zareef Ahmad Zareef described it as a lock on a door to a room which doesn't have anything inside. People of Kashmir feel cheated by the GoI. According to initial agreement except for Defence, Communications and Foreign Affairs in the matter of other subjects sovereignty was supposed to rest with J&K Government.
The will of the people of J&K which was to determine its future has been given a short shrift. The use of pellet guns on people of Kashmir was the ultimate inhuman treatment meted out to them. It is unthinkable that GoI could have used these pellet guns on any unruly crowd anywhere else in the country. It is an example of the step-motherly treatment towards people of J&K.
People pelting stones at security forces were accused by the GoI of having accepted money from Pakistan. There can be nothing more ridiculous than this. This is admitting the fact that Pakistan is able to control each and every individual in Kashmir.
Question arises what were the security forces and intelligence agencies doing? And if religion is the basis on which Pakistan has been able to steer people towards its side why isn't India able to convince people of Nepal of its point of view. It is an open fact that Nepalese people harbour an anti-India feeling, especially after India blockaded supplies to Nepal when Nepal refused to budge to the Indian wish of making amendments in their new Constitution to favour the pro-India Madhesi people.
During the Modi regime situation has worsened in J&K. Even people who had moved closer to integration with India position from a position of autonomy are now finding it difficult to accept the Indian hegemony. The GoI has hurt the sentiments of people of Kashmir beyond repair. 
***
Note: This article has been written after the visit of 'Protect and Honour Constitution' yatra of the National Alliance of People's Movements to Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir
---
*Prominent Magsaysay Award winning social activist. Contact: ashaashram@yahoo.com

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
India claims to be important on the world stage but it cannot handle its neighbours who are much smaller in size and power--and ALL governments are equally at fault

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".