Eyes wide shut: on the unrest in Upper Assam

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Eyes wide shut: on the unrest in Upper Assam

The killings in Upper Assam point to the polarisation in the State
It would be facile(आसान ) to see the gunning(शिकार ) down of five Bengali men in Bisonimukh-Kherbari, near Tinsukia in Upper Assam, on November 1 as an isolated(अलग ) act of violence or even another of the periodic(आवधिक) eruptions(विस्फोट) against non-Assamese people in the State. The context(संदर्भ) is crucial( महत्वपूर्ण) here. The killings both symptomise and deepen the fault lines between the Assamese and Bengali communities because of the ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens as well as the Centre’s plan to secure parliamentary passage for the Citizenship(नागरिकता ) (Amendment(संशोधन)) Bill, 2016. At the heart of the schism(फूट /संप्रदाय) is the fate(किस्मत/भाग्य) of those eventually(अंततः ) left out by the updated NRC. Four million didn’t make it to the final draft published in July, and while the final numbers will be known only when the elaborate(विस्तृत/व्यापक ) process of claims, objections(आपत्तियों) and verification draws to a close, there are certain(कुछ/निश्चित) known knowns at this point already. The ‘illegal(अवैध/गैरकानूनी)’ Muslim immigrant(आप्रवासी/परदेसी) unfortunately(दुर्भाग्यवश) has few speaking on her behalf. But her Hindu counterpart(समकक्ष ) is the battleground(युद्धक्षेत्र), with ethnic(जातीय ) Assamese nativist groups advocating(वकालत ) an even-handed approach while the ruling(सत्तारूढ़) BJP governments in Delhi and Dispur are keen to cast the protective(सुरक्षा) cover of the Citizenship Bill on grounds of persecution(उत्पीड़न) in her country of origin(मूल). Groups claiming to represent Assamese and Bengali interests have observed(मनाया /स्वीकार्य) shutdowns and counter-shutdowns. And while a party with a core ethnic Assamese kernel such as the Asom Gana Parishad could unequivocally(स्पष्ट) oppose(विरोध) absorbing(अवशोषित ) ‘illegal’ Bengali Hindu immigrants, those with a broader vote base have had to hedge(बचाव /घेरना) through innovative(नवीन/अभिनव) strategies(रणनीतियों). These include(शामिल/सम्मिलित ) speaking in different voices (the Congress in the Assamese-dominated(प्रभुत्व/बहुल) Brahmaputra and Bengali-dominated Barak valleys) or arguing(बहस ) that the burden(बोझ) of absorption(अवशोषण) is not only Assam’s to bear (the BJP). The politics ensuing over this has left the State polarised.

What they want is peace in Tinsukia
The shrill(तीखी ) rhetoric(बयानबाजी/लफ्फाजी) has spilled over to civil society, with calls for a separate(अलग) State emanating(उत्पन्न ) from the Barak valley, and stray instances of Bengali speakers being harassed(परेशान) in Lower Assam towns, including Guwahati. Thursday’s tragedy should serve as a grim(गंभीर ) warning to the powers that be of potentially darker times ahead if the surcharged rhetoric is left unchecked. While the ULFA (Independent) denies(इनकार ) responsibility, investigations thus far suggest it was the group’s handiwork. It had earlier claimed responsibility for a low-intensity(तीव्रता/गहनता) bomb blast in Guwahati on October 13, saying it was a warning to those who support the Citizenship Bill. Meanwhile(बीच), on Thursday too, the Supreme Court Bench that is monitoring(निगरानी the NRC exercise signalled an accommodative(मिलनसार) stance(रुख) by agreeing to allow the use of five more documents by those left out of the NRC final draft. That spirit of accommodation, towards long-time residents, of whatever religion or ethnicity, needs to permeate the political leadership and civil society in Assam now.

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1.Facile(आसान
Synonyms: effortless, glib, hasty, accomplished, adept
Antonyms: arduous, complicated, confusing,, difficult, hard

2.Crucial( महत्वपूर्ण)
Synonyms: central,, compelling, deciding, decisive, essential
Antonyms: inessential, insignificant, minor, optional, secondary

3.Eventually(अंततः )
Synonyms: finally, one day, someday, sooner or later, ultimately
Antonyms: never

4.Eruptions(विस्फोट)
Synonyms: blast, breakout, burst, explosion, flare-up
Antonyms: trickle

5.Schism(फूट /संप्रदाय)
Synonyms: alienation, breakup, disagreement, discord, dissension, fissure
Antonyms: agreement, closing, closure, harmony, peace

6. Fate(किस्मत/भाग्य)
Synonyms: chance, circumstance, consequence, destiny, effect
Antonyms: beginning, cause, commencement, origin, source

7.Elaborate(विस्तृत/व्यापक )
Synonyms: busy, complicated, decorated, detailed, embellished
Antonyms: easy, facile, natural, simple, uncultured

8.Ethnic(जातीय
Synonyms: indigenous, national, traditional, tribal, native

9.Battleground(युद्धक्षेत्र),
Synonyms: marker, memorial, milestone, monument, museum
Antonyms: whole

10.Counterpart(समकक्ष )
Synonyms: Doppelganger, analogue, complement, copy, correlate
Antonyms: original

11.Observed(मनाया /स्वीकार्य)
Synonyms: attended, checked, detected, noticed, realized
Antonyms: abandoned, desecrated, forgotten, unnoticed, unperceived

12.Hedge(बचाव /घेरना)
Synonyms: fence, shrubbery, barrier, bush, enclosure
Antonyms: fence, shrubbery, barrier, bush, enclosure

13.Arguing(बहस )
Synonyms: contend, disagree, dispute, quarrel, quibble
Antonyms: agree, concur, give in, make peace, abstain

14.Burden(बोझ)
Synonyms: anxiety, concern, difficulty, duty, hardship
Antonyms: advantage, aid, assistance, benefit, blessing

15.Absorption(अवशोषण)
Synonyms: consumption, digestion, intake, penetration, retention
Antonyms: boredom, distraction

16.Shrill(तीखी )
Synonyms: deafening, discordant, earsplitting, noisy, piercing
Antonyms: calm, low, mild, moderate, quiet

17.Rhetoric(बयानबाजी/लफ्फाजी)
Synonyms: hyperbole, oratory, address, balderdash, bombast
Antonyms: quiet, conciseness

18.Harassed(परेशान)
Synonyms: burn, hassle, heckle, hound, intimidate
Antonyms: aid, assist, delight, encourage, help

19.Denies(इनकार )
Synonyms: ban, call on, contradict, oppose, rebuff
Antonyms: OK, accept, allow, approve, ratify

20.Intensity(तीव्रता/गहनता)
Synonyms: anxiety, concentration, depth, earnestness, emotion
Antonyms: apathy, calm, calmness, ease, enervation

 

 

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

It would be facile to see the gunning down of five Bengali men in Bisonimukh-Kherbari, near Tinsukia in Upper Assam, on November 1 as an isolated act of violence or even another of the periodic eruptions against non-Assamese people in the State. The context is crucial here. The killings both symptomise and deepen the fault lines between the Assamese and Bengali communities because of the ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens as well as the Centre’s plan to secure parliamentary passage for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. At the heart of the schism is the fate of those eventually left out by the updated NRC. Four million didn’t make it to the final draft published in July, and while the final numbers will be known only when the elaborate process of claims, objections and verification draws to a close, there are certain known knowns at this point already. The ‘illegal’ Muslim immigrant unfortunately has few speaking on her behalf. But her Hindu counterpart is the battleground, with ethnic Assamese nativist groups advocating an even-handed approach while the ruling BJP governments in Delhi and Dispur are keen to cast the protective cover of the Citizenship Bill on grounds of persecution in her country of origin. Groups claiming to represent Assamese and Bengali interests have observed shutdowns and counter-shutdowns. And while a party with a core ethnic Assamese kernel such as the Asom Gana Parishad could unequivocally oppose absorbing ‘illegal’ Bengali Hindu immigrants, those with a broader vote base have had to hedge through innovative strategies. These include speaking in different voices (the Congress in the Assamese-dominated Brahmaputra and Bengali-dominated Barak valleys) or arguing that the burden of absorption is not only Assam’s to bear (the BJP). The politics ensuing over this has left the State polarised.

The shrill rhetoric has spilled over to civil society, with calls for a separate State emanating from the Barak valley, and stray instances of Bengali speakers being harassed in Lower Assam towns, including Guwahati. Thursday’s tragedy should serve as a grim warning to the powers that be of potentially darker times ahead if the surcharged rhetoric is left unchecked. While the ULFA (Independent) denies responsibility, investigations thus far suggest it was the group’s handiwork. It had earlier claimed responsibility for a low-intensity bomb blast in Guwahati on October 13, saying it was a warning to those who support the Citizenship Bill. Meanwhile, on Thursday too, the Supreme Court Bench that is monitoring the NRC exercise signalled an accommodative stance by agreeing to allow the use of five more documents by those left out of the NRC final draft. That spirit of accommodation, towards long-time residents, of whatever religion or ethnicity, needs to permeate the political leadership and civil society in Assam now.