Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bloody Brahmaputra

Hindi-speaking population. Killings. Assam. ULFA, no "suspected ULFA". Fear.
Key terms right now.

"Dibrugarh, Jan. 5: Suspected Ulfa militants today carried out a string of attacks on Hindi-speaking people in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, killing 13 people and injuring 15 others. The slaughter revived memories of a similar carnage engineered by the outfit in 2003.." (13 kiln labourers die in Ulfa attack, The Telegraph, Saturday Jan 6 2007)

"Dibrugarh/Guwahati, Jan. 6: The maelstrom of violence unleashed by the banned Ulfa since last evening continued to churn throughout the night, with the death toll rising to 48 and a total of 23 others injured in the twin Upper Assam districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh.." (Assam reels under carnage, Sunday Jan 7)

"Jan. 7: The rat-a-tat of automatic weapons pierced the Assam air again tonight, claiming nine lives as the outlawed Ulfa carried its hate campaign against Hindi-speaking people to a third district.

After targeting migrant brick kiln workers, vendors and daily-wage labourers in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia on Friday night, Ulfa militants singled out Hindi-speaking people at two places in neighbouring Sivasagar district.." (Stench of death & fire of anger; More die in twin strikes, Monday Jan 8)

"Jan. 8: After four days of targeting hapless Hindi-speaking people, Ulfa militants triggered two blasts in the vicinity of an army cantonment today, as if to show that they can strike anywhere, anytime.

The blasts near the Narengi cantonment occurred even as the army was preparing to go hard at Ulfa for the relentless communal purge that has left the Hindi-speaking community shell-shocked.

Seven persons were wounded in the twin explosions at Satgaon market, barely 100 metres from the entrance to the Narengi cantonment.." (Blasts near base mock army; Ulfa kills two more migrants in Golaghat, Tuesday Jan 9)

And then, today's Guwahati newslatter says:

"Jan. 9: Former defence minister George Fernandes today met three Ulfa leaders in a Guwahati jail and came out carrying the message that the banned militant group is not behind the attacks on Hindi-speaking people.." (Fernandes plays Ulfa ‘advocate’)

I don't know much to comment about these attacks. But there are reasons to believe this is not so simple an issue. And it is not surprising that the target is almost always the daily wages labourers.

* * *

It may be just coincidence that this one piece of news about a new book also came on Saturday.

"Guwahati, Jan. 5: When Rita Choudhury won her first literary honour — the Asam Sahitya Sabha award — in 1981, she was not present at the ceremony to receive it.

She was in Dibrugarh jail with thousands of other political prisoners at the height of the anti-foreigners’ movement.

Over 20 years after that historic mass movement, Choudhury is ready with a novel that promises to tell the insider’s story of the agitation.

To be unveiled tomorrow at the Guwahati Press Club, Ei Somoy Sei Somoy (Now and then) has already evoked great curiosity, particularly because of the subject it deals with.."

(A movement comes alive in ink- Writer and activist documents the anti-foreigners’ agitation in Assam, The Telegraph Guwahati newsletter, 6 Jan 2007. See archives)

I would like to read this book if I can get hold of a translation. It may help us understand the tension in this state better.

[Earlier post: Blasts, Nov 6 2006]


sudeep said...

It has been an "ultimatum" to "wipe off" all militancy from the state since the day of this post (Operation Rhino as it is called). As it stands, the State seems to have benifitted most from these killings. "Repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (what is it?) is ruled out", says our Defence Minister. Sad.

Sadder, the Police and Army excesses are not making the people of the state feel any more friendly with the Government machinery. (The Telegraph, Jan 25: "CISF men gun down 2 - Mistaken for Ulfa cadre, traders killed near border"; The Telegraph, Jan 28: "More than a thousand people blocked National Highway 37 to protest the arrest of two alleged ULFA militants in Tinsukia district" (could not find it on the web edition) (Last year it was Kakopa-thar.)

[Also see earlier post: Is Sharmila Real?]

sudeep said...

An interesting article on AFSPA 1958: Another 9/11, Another Act of Terror, by Bimol Akoijam. ("Bare Acts": Sarai Reader 2005)

sudeep said...

The location of the article has changed. It is here now.

aruni kashyap said...

I hav just started reading the novel. Its not yet translated.