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food for thought

The Axom Xatra Mahasabha has reportedly reversed its stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by submitting a new memorandum to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. The apex xatra body is thus seeking to right a wrong perpetrated by three rogue office bearers recently. These three had earlier taken a blatantly communal stand by stating in a memorandum that Hindu Bangladeshi infiltrators be allowed to settle on xatra land illegally occupied by Muslim Bangladeshis. Spontaneous protests at once broke out across Assam against this surreptitious move by a section of xatra functionaries to cement a communal agenda being pushed through by certain forces. If these forces have their way, everything in Assam will be viewed through the narrow prism of religion. Mischievous arguments are now being made to the effect that if the Congress earlier let Islamic fundamentalist forces have a free run in this State for narrow political gains, it is time the pendulum swings the other way to allow votaries of Hindutva seize centre-stage. Well, the socio-political sphere is not algebra where two minuses make a plus, or that one wrong cancels out an earlier wrong. It was not for nothing that Srimanta Sankardeva took care to give an all-inclusive character to his eka-saran-naam-dharma. People from all faiths, castes and ethnicities were welcome, thereby helping to forge a strong social harmony over four centuries. It is this generous ethos, this respect for human dignity that Assam is in danger of losing in the 21st century. By falling prey to the blandishments of alien forces, sections of xatra functionaries — in their greed for power and pelf that they probably see coming their way after a long hiatus — have undermined their own people’s principled stand. Let the people of Assam unitedly make it clear to all political parties and socio-religious organizations that it is illegal migration, economic backwardness, endemic joblessness, inequality and corruption that the root of all ills in this once gentle land. There can be no clouding of such fundamental issues by raking up religion.