Northeast India, which has always been known for its cultural diversity and communal harmony, is facing some serious disturbances for the past few weeks. It is the result of a recent panic attack that took place in Bangalore sometime back where a malicious rumor was spread by unidentified forces about violence targeted at the northeast population in the city. This prompted majority of northeast people to flee the city and return to their respective states in order to save their lives. This, in turn, gave rise to some communal turbulence in the northeast which has still not subsided.
The communal conflicts in Bodoland Territorial Areas District or BTAD, as it is popularly known as, are in no mood of stopping. Everyday, we hear about more and more areas of the northeast getting affected by the violence and the death toll rising to more depressing numbers. For instance, one individual was killed and five houses near Barpeta Road in Khairabari were recently burnt down by unidentified assailants as part of the violence. Again, in another instance, bullets were openly fired by a group of thirty unidentified miscreants at Pakhartali village in Kokrajhar near Fakiragram Railway station killing five people including a 14-year-old child and a woman. The most unfortunate thing is that such happenings have given rise to a communal tension in the northeast which was unheard of till now.
There is a sense of insecurity and uncertainty hovering in the air in the northeast regions. Communal sentiments have been ignited in the state by some sections which are taking full advantage of the recent BTAD violence. Their main aim is to see a divided region that is always at political unrest and far from being peaceful and harmonious.
It’s Impact on Public Life: Public life has been greatly affected by all these occurrences. Just the other day, a 12-hour bandh was called in the state of Assam by the All Assam Minority Students Union. A bandh is always a bother as it disrupts normal activity significantly and brings everything to a halt. Again, the National Highway 31 was blocked by them so much so that the local administration had to fire rubber bullets in order to scatter the mob. All these happenings are gradually taking a toll on public life as people are increasingly becoming afraid of stepping out of their homes.
Bandhs are being called at random and on such occasions, all government offices, business centers and educational institutions remain closed. This is quite natural as nobody wants to endanger their lives. Again, there is complete absence of plying of vehicles on the road and the shops and market wear a vacant look. There is so much panic among everyone that even though journalists and other individuals involved in essential services have the liberty to move around during bandhs, do not want to take the risk. If this continues, the general northeast public can face serious problems. Hence, immediate action needs to be taken in order to tackle the situation and establish normalcy and harmony in the northeast region of India.
What is The Government Doing? The government is trying its level best to establish peace and harmony in the northeastern states and put an end to all communal tensions. The current security condition in Assam was thoroughly reviewed by the Central government recently along with taking stock of the rehabilitation and relief measures for the people affected by the conflict.
A number of relief camps have been set up in Assam whose statuses are being reviewed from time to time by different ministers including JN Chaudhary, state Director General of Police, Shailesh, Principal Home Secretary and RK Singh, Union Home Secretary. These efforts have been partially successful since the latest home ministry statement affirms that the number of relief camps has come down from a staggering 340 to a reasonable 218. Again, the number of individuals residing in the camps has also come down from 4.5 lakh to 2.3 lakh. This is indeed commendable as it throws light on the fact that the government is doing its bit to improve the scenario and restore peace once again.
Also, several parties have been very vocal about the whole incident and have categorically said that they would not entertain any divisive thoughts to gain ground in northeast India. Peace is what is needed at this hour and every effort will be made to establish it and eliminate any sign of unrest building up in the northeast states.
What More Needs To Be Done: It is true that the Central and the State government are really pulling out all stops to restore the situation and make the northeast region a safe haven for its inhabitants once again. However, a lot more needs to be done since the situation is still not under control. Already, a lot of damage has been done and if appropriate measures are not taken on time, the communal harmony that northeast India was so famous for would be lost forever.
The first thing that needs to be done is to identify the perpetrators of violence as fast as possible and take proper action against them so that a proper message can be conveyed to those living in fear and insecurity. The police as well as lawmakers need to be really proactive on this front and make sure cases of violence do not happen anymore.
The government also has a big responsibility on its shoulders. It ought to convince everyone living in the northeast that their lives are perfectly safe and there is no need to panic or feel insecure. Also, it has to be reiterated by the government through suitable measures that the northeast supports diversity of culture and are tolerant towards all minority groups. Only then can harmony be achieved.
Northeast India has always been counted among the most peaceful and tranquil regions of the country. It should not lose that reputation. It is important to overcome the present challenges and once again restore people’s faith in the serenity and peacefulness of northeast India.