The recent spate of clashes between native Bodo tribals and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh has left many dead, hundreds injured and lakhs displaced.
Illegal immigration from Bangladesh is a genuine problem in Assam and the same is a major election issue there. Still, no concrete action has been taken to resolve the problem, both by the Centre and the state government.
Bodos have been feeling threatened in their own backyard with illegal migrants encroaching upon land and spreading their reach in the state, fuelling tension.
While the violence in the state has now been contained, its ripple effects were felt in Mumbai last Saturday when protesters demonstrating against the Assam violence themselves went on rampage killing two in the process and injuring many others.
The less said about the destruction of public property, the better. Investigations have revealed that the violence was planned and aimed at fuelling communal tension.
Meanwhile, northeasterners, especially students, have also come under attack from unidentified men in Pune in Maharashtra and later in Mysore.
And now the community in Bangalore is feeling threatened and a mass exodus from their own country has come as a shocker.
While the Union Home Minister, the state Chief Minister and police have all assured the community of safety, the exodus continues.
But reasons behind them feeling threatened in their own country need deeper probing. From being called ‘Chinki’ to ‘Hakka Noodles’, northeasterners generally live isolated lives in India’s big cities.
They move around in their own circles and rarely mingle with people from other parts of the country.
It is not because they are not social but mainly due to the apathy with which the man on the street treats them even while he will revel at Mary Kom wining bronze medal for ‘India’ at the Olympics.
This hypocrisy is the prime reason behind the persecution of people from the North-East, especially students, who travel to the North, West and South of India for studies and jobs.
Also, it has never been the focus of successive governments at the Centre. And it is because of this reason that people from the region have been forced to migrate to other places like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad to seek a better life.
The recent incidents in Mumbai and Bangalore have only reinforced the fact that there is a sustained campaign against the people from the northeastern states. And the recent incidents have their roots in the violence witnessed in Assam.
"We are in a state of panic after rumours that our community will be attacked. It is better to come to railway station than live in the city. I feel relaxed and safe at the railway station," Disen told the media at the Bangalore City railway station. He was among the nearly 6,000 people from the North-East who boarded routine and special trains to the North-East in fear.
Technology student Sazib Masahary said: "My parents asked me to come back to give them support in the wake of violence there. Also I feel unsafe here, inspite of the government giving us assurances."
Of late, it has become the practice of many to exploit the delicate communal and social harmony to their benefit. And people from the North-East appear to be the latest victim of this action.
But what’s amusing is the fact that unlike in the past, this time it appears to be a sustained and systematic campaign to spread fear among those from the North-East and possibly drive them out of the cities, like in the case of Bangalore.
However, these incidents do not augur well for the unity of the nation.
And such mindless violence and fear mongering are bound to strengthen the feeling of alienation among the northeastern people, and give a boost to those who seek to divide our nation.
First Published: 8/18/2012 8:49:47 AM