Assam the land of natural beauty, home of number of ethnic culture, tribe and language is where I grew up. If one grew up in this exotic state, they get used to the word- Bandh. Yes the day when suddenly some rebel group or some political party asks the people to stop their regular course of work. From July 14th, starts the season of Bandh till 15th of August which happens to be our Independence Day. Bandh has become a natural part of our existence. It’s an extended summer vacation which includes the monsoon too. I was born in the year when season of Bandh was at its peak point. So our generation grew up learning the names of rebel groups, various political parties and symbols. Right now we are enduring the very season of Bandh in this state.
Fun fact about Bandh, it was a harmless protest weapon highlighted by Mahatma Gandhi against British Rule. He used it as a method to handicap British economy and to show our disobedience against foreign rule. Once a noble instrument, now harmful dieses with no cure. It hollows our economy, halts our academic progress, cuts out our communication with outer world. The Bandh is no longer peaceful, you never know when the next bomb may blast.
My fellow country man must have been following the bulletins about the ongoing feud taking place in our state and some nearby states. With the advent of Telangana proposals, the demand for separate states of Bodoland and Kamtapur got ignited. So here we have two tribes with varied culture and language asking for separate states. Bodo people have been asking a fifty-fifty division of state, where as Coch-Rajbongshi’s are rebuking the demand of Bodoland and placing Kamtapur above all. Now in their hypothetical map includes my small city. Yes my city is the apple of discord right now. Economically sound, it’s the future educational hub of lower Assam and is industrial too. So we are at stakes , people want their own state with their own people the “locals” free of immigrants. They want isolation and no encroachment in their closed well knit state. Then we have another set of people Rabha-Hasong claiming their territory over RHC elections. There is dispute and I see peace is far from sight.
As a kid I use to pray for Bandhs to escape school, but now I pray to escape Bandhs. Every year we miss considerable number of days in school and college days. Travelling to institution on a Bandh day is an adventure. We have never had a proper celebration of Independence Day or Republic Day. We grew up with a fear that very next moment we may be dead if we step out. Everyone wants their own state own identity, isolation and honor. People die every year in bomb blasts, they are not the agencies of government, they are the very common man. The blood brothers and sister. What do they want to with a land which is underdeveloped and will they use it as burial ground or burn their deads in the great cause of seeking a state. I often wonder what Assam is to everybody, is it a Cake from which everyone wants a piece. We already are small state, why to divide it further?
We Assamese have a very bad reputation outside the realm of north-east. We are branded as cannibals, snake eaters, drug abusers, skimpy clothe wearing bunch of moral less humans. Often asked “how do you live there?” People have an image that rebels, terrorists every other antagonist walks with naked guns in public. This is the image we have in our very own country.
Instead of trying tearing apart our land and creating mini-states, we should educate our young ones. We should develop; drag the school dropouts and college dropouts back on path of education. If we are so worried about our culture being Lost, we should teach our children about our past, achievements, language and culture. Isolation will never help us to grow; it will restrict our growth of thought and views. Isolation is never an option, awareness and exchange of knowledge of different cultures will unite us and help us develop. If every tribe and group seeks, sovereignty, state, in the end we have to plea to save Assam.
Yes all this has made me sad, today there was no Bandh, but people were careful not go out, two bomb blast took place, I did not go to college in fear of being killed. My whole education life may cripple down if people don’t stop being selfish, we have to see the bigger good. Few power hungry leaders are trying blind us in name of common identity and a utopia free of encroachments where our identity is intact. We need interaction and communication to develop. We need a healthy environment where we can walk free not in fear of death or being homeless or being branded immigrant. We need harmony, the country has seen us fighting, we have good percentage of literacy rate, we have various scope to increase our economic growth, we have great talents and platform for greater success. But we are blinded by the mirage that we can develop better if we get separated. Why can’t we accept the simple fact, no one is ever going to question our identity or ask us of our origin, if people get separate states it will be filled with people suffering from xenophobia. Once separated no one will trust each other and finally stop communication and drown the very great idea of self reliance and self development. Each state will become a rival and each individual clutching to their bits of land and doom the already doomed nation of odium.
The essential question, that has been troubling me ever since I realized the bitter side of this unrest. “Where, do I stand in all this? Where is my existence? I am a Bengali born in Assam, hence I am not Assamese speaking Assamese. Bodoland might have no place for me, Kamtapur might have no place for me. In their isolation where will we go, we are the identity less Assamese in fear of losing our home. Where do I go my landmates?
P.S- happy independence day beloved country.
thanking you to bear with me