There was no positive story in the
recent past that was reported on the Assam imbroglio, except one.
But before telling that lets count the negatives that has shaken
us from within.
First was the mass exodus of the Bengali speaking Muslims
population from their shanty homes residing in the lower Assam
valley? It followed the armed raid by the murderous Bodo tribe.
There was much of blood letting and mayhem in this tragedy that
triggered one of the largest displacements of population in the
independent Indian history.
Unfortunately, Assam is too far from New Delhi, the seat of power
and also far from the so called national media that’s more
comfortable in reporting Anna Hazare and Ramdev. Even though five
lakh people left there home and over 100 perished, the tragedy did
not move the national media to report it like a national crisis.
The second important development was the angry protest by Muslim
youth in Mumbai and the subsequent violence. It sparked off the
question, why Muslims in Mumbai should protest for the happenings
in Assam; after all they are too far away and have no connection
except common religion.
The argument may sound fair enough,
but living in Chennai, and witnessing protests in support of
Tamils in Sri Lanka, who are citizens of another country, the
Mumbai protest definitely make sense to me.
The protest was to tell the government and the media to do
something to address the issue and not let it to recur again. This
has to be seen into the context of 1983 Nellie riots in Assam,
when more than 3000 people died and not an FIR was lodged against
However, the act of Mumbai protestors to become violent is
something really condemnable. It would be prudent that those
indulging in acts of vandalism must be given exemplary punishment.
However, Mumbai protest also exposes the laxity of the police
force that could not anticipate the situation and had not made
enough preparations to handle the possible fall out if the
peaceful crowd becomes unruly.
Continuing with the negative news, the story of rumor mongering
mills then came in. The so called national media that could not
cover the Assam story properly started giving live commentary of
the fleeing northeast people from various metropolitan cities. The
citizenship issue of Assam became secondary, primary was to
unearth the rumor mongering factories in the country.
It was discovered that the rumors were spread through the internet
using social media and the mobile phones, the modern day tools of
communication. This triggered a debate how to control them from
having damaging influence on the society, while others arguing
that such mediums should not be controlled.
The government took the decision to put restrictions on these two
sets of communication and set a precedent for future as well. Do
we like to remain under such control and restricts in a democratic
country is something that requires a national debate.
Oblivious of all these facts, a youth organization, in New Delhi
took a bold step to cool the social temperature that was rising
due the problems related to recent developments in Assam.
It assembled a large number of its volunteers at India Gate in
solidarity of the people of Assam in particular and northeast in
general. Youth gathered there shouted slogans of peace and non
violence and harmony. They joined hands and formed human chain
near Amar Jawan Joti to show the solidarity for the northeast
The youth shouted slogans 'we are one.’ Many placards were
displayed condemning the violence and riots in Assam. One placard
read; 'Na Bodo Na Muslamaan, Sabse Pehle Hai Insaan' (no Bodo, no
Muslim, we all are first human beings). Many present at India Gate
also joined the human chain to convey the message for restoring
unity and harmony.
“This human chain is a way to show our unity and solidarity, we
also want to say that these violence and riots cannot disintegrate
our society and we through our unity will rise every time
together,” said Shekhar Jain, of Mission Bhartiyam that organized
the peace initiative.
“We are really hurt by the recent ongoing violence and thus we
feel that it is us (youths) who have responsibility to come
forward and to show that we are against all violence and riots,”
Ansaar Ahmed from National Confederation of Human Rights
Organizations (NCHRO) who joined the human chain said; “This is
the time of national emergency, our society is in danger and
people must know that they are human first, not the Bodos, Hindus
“We were hurt by this violence in Assam and its after effects.
Though some organizations and individuals went there and helped in
relief works, we also have responsibility towards our fellow
citizens. It will be a good gesture if we all can come together to
tell that we are one,” said Ms Pathak, a Mission Bhartiyam
“We, as citizens of this country and as human beings, condemn
riots and violence in all forms. We also condemn the shock, the
pain, the terror that the people had to face. We empathies with
the people of northeast and show our solidarity and extend our
support to them” she added.
Such developments are powerful narratives of contemporary India.
It lives up the adage, that what is true of this country, the
opposite of it is also true. Among the stories of hatred and
violent protest this little tale, was hardly reported anywhere in
If this story sends positive messages -a message of peace and
harmony -a message of being human first -a message that we all are
Indians and we share our joys and sorrows together, it at least
deserves a glance.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org