Signals from Hailakandi

File photo


While the overall situation in Hailakandi following Friday’s incident of mob violence has been brought under control with the imposition of an indefinite curfew and calling in the Army, one should not pass it as an ordinary or isolated law-and-order incident. Certain forces have been working overtime in the past few years to disturb peace and tranquillity in Assam even at the drop of the hat. There is a tendency among certain forces to create a communal situation in the state over petty matters. The Hailakandi incident, according to initial media reports, was triggered off by a complaint that some miscreants had caused damage to seats of a few two-wheelers parked outside a mosque located in the Marwaripatti area of the district town on Wednesday. While some members of the mosque committee filed an FIR with the police with that complaint, it also demanded immediate arrest of the miscreants, with a condition that the Friday afternoon prayers would be held on the main road of Marwaripatti if the culprits were not apprehended within Thursday. What followed was bound to happen – the police failed to apprehend the miscreants, attempts were made to hold the Friday afternoon prayers on the Marwaripatti main road, miscreants allegedly pelted stones, it provoked both sides, police resorted to caning and firing and curfew was imposed. What the incident has signalled is that communal tension – a trademark of some mainland India states – is being fast imported to Assam and that forces are at work to foment trouble by hook or by crook, so that the overall situation in the state is vitiated in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election result as well as completion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is so crucial for isolating the Bangladeshi infiltrators from the genuine Indian citizens in the state. There are forces that are also working overtime to take advantage of any petty matter to foment trouble so that the process of completion of the NRC is disturbed. Such attempts were made way back in July 2010 when the government was conducting a pilot project of the NRC in the Barpeta Assembly constituency, with reports indicating that the forces responsible for derailing the NRC pilot project there had the indirect blessings of certain political parties too. Though one does not immediately see any report indicating involvement of any political party in the Hailakandi incident, one cannot rule out such possibilities. As such, the government must put in all kinds of efforts including a thorough intelligence exercise to identify the real culprits responsible for the Hailakandi incident, apprehend them and put them through a fast-track mechanism of justice that awards them the most stringent punishment. The government must also consider the Hailakandi incident as a test case for taking precautionary measures in the post-NRC situation when not only unknown miscreants, but known political parties and leaders and other groups opposed to the very Constitutional procedure of identification of Bangladeshi infiltrators would surely come out in to the open to oppose the final NRC. It is high time the government got ready with a well-drawn plan of action to handle the post-NRC situation when certain forces will definitely try to create trouble, especially in those districts of Assam which have undergone dangerous demographic changes.