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

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

By Our Representative
The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.