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International Indexed & Referred Research Journal, October,2012. ISSN 0974-2832, RNI- RAJBIL 2009/29954; VoL. IV * ISSUE- 45
Research Paper - History October ,2012
ASSAM Movement and its Impact on Tribal
* Dulen Bassumatary
* Research Scholar, School of Social Science, Singhania University, Rajasthan.
A B S T R A C T
Key Words: Illegal migrant, Encroachment, Tribal Belts & Blocks, Hidden agenda, Economic hardship, Dominance, Assam Accord.
Introduction: The anti-foreigners movement launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), in 1979 heralded a new chapter in the history of the aspiration of political self-determination of the Bodos. It virtually added fuel to the Bodoland Movement for creating a separate state curving out of Assam. This movement that lasted for six years left a permanent impact upon the society of Assam and created lasting rift among the Assamese and the non-Assamese particularly the tribals which created a far reaching consequences upon the political scenario of Assam. Finding ok to that the initial years of AASU agitation against the illegal immigrants, the tribal organization like All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) as well as all prominent organizations extended their support to the AASU movement. The support to this movement had its own logical reasons. The Plains tribals were the worst victim of this unregulated land encroachment by the Assamese as well as the illegal-migrants who lost their Tribals Belts and Blocks. The large scale land alienation created severe economic hardships among the Plains Tribals. So, for the economic and social well-being, the Bodos began to generate faith in this movement and they were convinced that this anti-foreigners movement would serve as an instrument in clearing their encroached lands. Thus, support to the AASU movement was a natural and real. However, as the movement took its course, the tribal leaders and organization gradually became fishy about the motives of the movement. Not only the tribal leaders, but many mainstream supporters also became faded with the movement. Gradually, it became transparent that the anti-foreigners movement had secret anti-tribal design. The Bodos and the other tribals were clearly convinced that the Assam Movement was very carefully designed to crush the democratic movements of the Bodos for their rights. Hussain remarks - “Needless to say the leadership of Assam movement has been very tacitfully using the movement itself to crush the left and democratic movements of Assam”1. The democratic movements by the Bodos in Assam were the result of suppression, domination and exploitation of the Assamese elite. When Assam Movement was launched among others one of the major issues was to allow no further democratic or any other movement in Assam.
From 1983 onwards, the spontaneous support of the Bodos and other tribal gradually happened to be thin to thinner. The survival of the Bodos already had been threatened and the AASU movement further aggravated the situation. During the movement, the pursuit of dominance resulted killing of lefts and supporter of other democratic movements. Pointing to the anti-tribal elements Promad Chandra Deury wrote- “Behind the sign board of the anti-foreigners movement, there is an inherent and pretending motive and the ongoing incidents have been gradually focusing it”2. On the other hand, questioning the character of the Assam Movement Thaneswar Panging remarked- “If it was really anti-foreigners movement, why, then the charter of demands of AASU contains numerous anti-tribal issues like withdrawal of Tribal Belts and Blocks, abolishment of reservation for the tribals, abolition of scholarship for the tribals?”
In fact, the Assam Movement was the climax of hatred against each other. The tribals now become determined to stand for their interest and contrarily the Assamese tried to dominate the tribals by any means. For this a situational suffocation was tried to create. The leaders and pro-movement activists very often abhorrently incited one group of the tribal against the other. The brutal massacre of Neli in Gohpur (1983) serves the most glaring evidence where the Lalungs were the scapegoat of skillful mastering of the ploy of destroying the cohesion among the tribals. During the entire period of the Assam Movement one of the lethal weapons used against tribals was ‘rumours’. These roumours were particularly made against the Bodos to vindicate their position. It is a matter great speculation that not only the common Assamese indulged in making such kind of awesome rumours but the media and the political leaders also involved. In 1983, two M.Ps from Assam delivered their speech in Rajya Sabha in the following way –
“In Goalpara the tribals have attacked the Assamese and in it about 500 Assamese have killed by the tirbals.”4
“In fact, there was no incident of killing at Goalpara. In Gohpur the number Bodo people brutally killed by Assamese were far larger than the Assamese themselves got killed in all their moement. But the M.P. never mentioned that Bodos too got killed in it.”5
During this violence period, the role of media was also biased. Particularly, ‘Dainik Asom’ and ‘Tinidinia Agradoot’ played vital role. They tried to establish very cunningly and blatantly that Assamese were the victim of the Bodo attack. The Assamese elites were successful in their motives. In post-violence time, when
Smt. Indira Gandhi came to Assam to visit the refugee camps, she returned to Delhi without visiting the tribal relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh where more than 95,000 Bodos and other tribals took refuge upon the persuasion of Assamese elite. It hurt the corner of the heart of the Bodos and the other tribals. The Bodos were misnomer and had to seek help from an alien government (Arunachal Pradesh) to make understand the fact and nature of the violence that the Bodos and other tribals was the real victim of Assamese atrocities. P.T.C.A who also participated in the anti-foreigners movement, in its press release published on 18th March 1983 expressed concern over the growing tension between the Assamese and non-Assamese which tends to wither the social fabric away due to forceful attempt to merger another into own fold.
Gradually, the tribal organizations who were active partner of the Assam Movement began parting themselves and without the support of the Bodos and other tribals the movement began to wither away. However, the AASU leaders who were witted enough to perceive the current of the movement and situation, hurriedly rushed to sign the so-called Assam Accord on 15 Aug 1985. It should be worth-mentioning here that the tribal organizations expected their consultation before singning the agreement as the Assam Accord would surely manifest the interest of Tribals too. However, the AASU leaders for fear of losing bargaining capability of Assamese elite hurriedly signed the pact without the consensus of the tribal organizations.
Conclusion: The Assam Accord was the final blow on the faith that the tribals had on Assamese counterpart. The demand of the AASU for safeguarding Assam from illegal migrants was genuine. However, their demand also contained many anti-tribal agenda and in fact, the force that was used against illegal migrants was also used against its own people, specially on tribals. The AASU leaders realized that it was the right time to crush the Bodos linguistically, culturally and politically as most of the tribals of Assam already had merged with Assamese and only a faint potion of them are withholding it. But, it was a glaring mistake on their part. This ultimately abated the spirit of the movement and turned it irrelevant. It failed to achieve its goal, on the contrary, brought scars and fragmentation to the years of social harmony in Assam. The recent movements for separate Bodoland are the clear reflections of how they were abused, ignored and betrayed of their their genuine rights by the Assamese.
R E F E R E N C E
1.Hussain, M., Tribal Movement of Autonomous States in Assam, ed. Bhuan,B.C., Political Development in Assam,2006, p.147
2. Deury, P.Ch. Sadiniya Nagarik, 13 Dec. 1979. 3. Panging, L, Sadiniya Nagarik, 5 June, 1980. 4. Choudhury, M., Asom Andolon: Pratishruti Aru Foloshruti, Banalata, Guwahati,2nd Edn,2007, p. 274
5. Ibid. 6. PTCA, Press Release, 18th March 1983
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