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The Political Chaos of Bodoland

Rohit Sachdeva

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Bodoloand conflict

Image from BodoEthnicConflict.in

The Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English newspaper tried to give the communal colour to the 23 killings of Muslims last week by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), a militant faction of NDFB under IK Songbijit. But little did it mention about the cause of conflict which is more of Bodo/Non-Bodo centric than religious clashes.

These Bodoland related killings and agitation dates back to Nellie Massacre on February 18, 1983 when 1800 women, men and children belonging to immigrant Bengali speaking Muslim families were killed in just one day during the course of anti-foreigners agitation spearheaded by All Assam Student Union and since then there is a string of killings with Bodo-Muslim clashes of 1993 and 1994 which ended up displacing 2074 families in Kokrajhar and 1,740 families in undivided Bongaigaon, claiming 113 lives. Bodo-Adivasi clashes in May 1996 & 1998 claimed 198 lives displacing 2, 02,684 people triggering the worst ever humanitarian crisis, with some people living as long as 17 years in relief camps.

Karbi-Kuki and Karbi-Dimasa were the other two ethnic clashes in 2005 and 2006 displacing yet another 59000 families in the Karbi-Anglong district. The target has been every community Musilms, Karbi or Adivasis in this land conflict, a movement that was initiated by Upendranath Brahma of All Bodo’s Student Union (ABSU) with its political wing Bodo People’s Action Committee (BPAC) shouting the slogan “Divide Assam 50-50” in 1987 and was assumed to be resolved with the Bodo Accord of 1983

This demand for Bodoland was not raised for the first time in 1987. The movement has its origins in economic and sociocultural aspirations of Bodo people who first raised a demand for Bodo homeland under British rule but it was not until 1930s that they began to organise themselves. After Nagaland became a state and anticipating further change in the landscape of Assam during the states reorganisation committee under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1969, Bodo leadership formed a political party called Plain Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA).

The BAC became a failed experiment as the territory of Bodo/Non Bodos was not properly demarcated and there was no political or financial authority provided to this council nullifying the very purpose of economic and sociocultural recognition for Bodos in the Assam land. This lead to resentment among the Bodo groups and this is the point from where Bodo politics started becoming confusing. The ABSU, under its then President Swambla Basumatary rejected the accord reviving its demand for separate state.

During this course of political bargaining PTCA split in 1984 under its militant leader Binai Khunger Basumatary forming a new party United Tribal Nationalists Liberation Front, Assam (UNTLF) and working in tandem with ABSU and both the organizations blaming PTCA for sacrificing interests of tribals.

In the background, a militant outfit known as Boro Security Force (BdSF) (at the time of its inception on October 3, 1896) was planning to take the main stage of Bodo liberation movement and with the weakly coagulated accord of BAC; it saw its chance to coming to forefront and killed Swambla Basumatary. BdSF was known as NDFB after another split group of Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) in 1996.

With the killing of Basumatry, fierce fratricidal clashes followed among the Bodo groups while waging a parallel campaign of statehood with ABSU-led revived movement and BLT killing loyalists of each other.

In the event, the NDFB, which has close but undefined links to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and other separatist armed outfits, remained committed to the goal of a ‘sovereign Bodoland’; the BLT, after nearly four years of its own ‘armed struggle’ and a lot of killings, entered into a ceasefire agreement with the AGP government in March 2000, preparatory to peace talks.

Now it was NDFB which had taken the center stage instead of ABSU and PTCA, who were sidelined by second Peace Accord with AGP and then again the series of killings began, the worst being Bodo-Adivasi clashes on 1996 & 1998.

Initially some ABSU leaders started joining BLT when it became a full fledged party but the elections of tribal council brought further discord forming another new party Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF), which was constituted by ousted ABSU and BLT leaders. The party further split into the BPPF (Hagrama), led by Hagrama Mahilary, the erstwhile BLT chief and chief executive member of the ad hoc BTC, and BPPF (Rabiram), led by Rabiram Narzary, former ABSU president. BPPF (Hagrama) after getting a wide mandate from tribal people in the council election rechristened itself as Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

Where BPF and BPPF had taken to politics of the state ruling Assembly elections in coalition with Tarun Gogoi’s Ason Gana Parishard (AGP), NDFB kept going with its militant attacks in the state projecting itself as Pro-Bodoland outfit. However in 2008, during the general assembly of the NDFB, its founder chairman Ranjan Daimary was replaced with B.Sungthara. But Daimary claimed the president position of NDFB which resulted in the alleged involvement of Daimary on October 30 serial blasts in which as many as 18 bombs went off in the markets of Guwahati city killing 77 and injuring 470 people. This had split NDFB in further two factions, one led by Daimary known as NDFB (Ceasefire or Progressive) who signed a ceasefire accord with the Gogoi’s government in Assam. But still the faction led by Sungathara which is now NDFB (S) continued its aggression.

Political and militant outfits are splitting into further factions. When government signs an accord with a militant organization, the unsatisfied group in the outfit forms another new outfit again creating the atmosphere of terror strikes and sporadic killings.

The issues of land in India may it be of Telangana, which has recently been declared 29th state of India or of Khalistan movement which want a Sikh dominated region in Punjab or the ones having their demands to divide the state of Uttar Pradesh in parts, are the ones which have taken thousands of lives and have displaced millions of people in this  60 years of independence and all these outfits claiming to be the saviours of the rights of their individual’s community brings destructions to the life of common people, who are already suppressed with their economic and social burdens and in such case these right’s demanding outfit are no better than the one against whom they are fighting for their rights.

These issues need a proper care from the government where it should set state organizations committee and genuinely look to resolve the issues unlike Maoism where even after forming CPI(Maoist), the campaigns like Salwa Judum have occurred, resulting in ever tensing situations and these outfits should also, act as spokesperson of the people whom they are representing, instead of trying to grab the power from the Central or state authorities with terror.

Journalism came to me as an accident. Never have I thought that I might be setting myself to sail in this stream of exceptionally diverse career, but as the time passed exposure to the field followed by guidance of the people around, made me sure that I could not have found a better field. A student of Journalism and Mass Communication from LPU, I have interned with leadinng English dailies of India including Hindustan Times and The Indian Express besides doing a short internship with National Human RIghts Commission. War history gives me sleepless nights and the issues of International relations makes me alert. Besides all of this I allow myself to delve into literature, movies (basically parallel cinema) and classical music.

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Humanity Endures During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Photo by Press Information Bureau, Government of India

The world changed exponentially since the pandemic broke out. We changed too. Emotions are running high. We have learnt to take one day at a time and have stopped expecting changes to happen overnight.

“COVID19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back”
A clarion call from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is a call to unity and solidarity. Already plagued by natural/manmade disasters and wars, many countries seem to bite the dust for want of resources in the fight against the virus. Warning each other against complacency is appreciable but never a blame game to cover up a dysfunctional response. Not all update themselves on the governments, new economic policies and R&D on Covid vaccine. Many we come across seem to be making wise individual choices. No matter how badly the tiers of government fail us, there will always be thousands of people working to make things better. Besides, finding reasons and faults on policies for the spread doesn’t help. A virulent strain of flu had managed to spread within a few months to the remotest corners of the world infecting half a billion people – more than a quarter of the human species in 1918 long before the current age of globalization.

Separating, alienating and forswearing the endless moments of contact that knit society together thrust us into frightening new realities. The good is still there. Social distancing is nothing but taking a step back to literally give breathing space to others. Going by news & views, we understand that amid concerns of rising numbers of positive cases in frustrating circumstances, acts of kindness and solidarity are burgeoning. Yes, it’s been extremely sad and sobering to watch this all unfold, but watching people share resources and supporting one another in every conceivable way has made us feel more connected to our local communities. Whether singing a song together out on balconies, getting groceries for the elderly or calling a friend to alleviate anxiety and fear, each one I know play a part and take comfort in a sense of togetherness. We are steadily aware of our limitations yet don’t hesitate to free our wells of compassion. Do we think twice and thrice to make an online contribution to save the lives of people we don’t know and will never know!

Sadly, it has taken an invisible virus to help us belive once again that we are strongest only when we have the welfare of others in our mind. Halfway through quarantine and self-isolation a phone call, a kind word, an opportunity to reach out, a breeze, bird calls, one good news and loss of a loved one, we are hit with the necessary humility and awe we ought to feel and appreciate just how beautiful our world is and precious life is.

Post pandemic recovery will be better and bigger if life goes on with this beautiful idea, of humility, inwardness – as an ethical relationship, for the sake of others. For better or for worse, we have learnt that one can’t be an island unto himself. Lives are intertwined and are bound together. We, humans produce more rubbish than any other species. The growth in the human population is part of the explanation, but cannot account for all of the extra rubbish, a result of haste and greed both which almost skinned humans of humanity.

Unity among countries must ensure that all countries are equipped to trace, isolate and treat people infected by COVID-19. Only a global effort can avoid the collapse of any country’s medical system. Sanctions that affect health care should never be imposed. Development in one part of the world should not rob another country of it’s resources. Humanity gains the upper hand over invisible predators through the sharing of reliable scientific information, global solidarity, vaccinations, antibiotics, improved hygiene and a much better medical infrastructure. Today,it doesn’t take too much to figure out that global sharing and caring is the best defense. The Jing Si aphorism, “Good actions require everyone’s cooperation. So let’s not cling to personal biases” holds good for all times.

Stories of good samaritans are aplenty. To know humanity is still alive and kicking and is at it’s best when united assures us that we’ll come out of this “abnormal” time with a new normal. In their own unique ways, humans respond to protect life and health and ensure respect for fellow beings. ‘single-nucleotide polymorphisms’ are no joke. From handing over meals, survial kits, medicines, home made masks to calling on an old couple across the street, everything is humanity in action and it is the power of this humanity – humane behaviour towards other humans – that we seek to celebrate, improve and increase, especially during crucial times. Remember “A person with a generous heart and compassion for all beings leads the most blessed life”.

With thousands of migrant workers taking it on their chin, vehicles filled with food and ration along highways reach the needy and stranded and canteens serve free food. Rays of sunshine! We see through hypocrisy and deceptions, hear excuses for inefficiency, inadequacy and inflexibility and within the tumult and uncertainty we are doing much, much better in life than we thought we can. Quietly. Kindly. Gently. Being able to spare a part of us to help someone live is worth being thankful for. ” Giving with an expectation for return brings misery”. May we give generously, but don’t guilt ourselves if we can’t. If we have nothing left to spare, let’s go slow and kind.

The world is being taught a lesson, the harder way. This lesson is not about rich and powerful versus poor and powerless but about leadership that treasure the common wealth and common good, above private greed and profit and above protecting the privileges of a handful elites.

None of us are actually going anywhere. Might as well stay. The conclusion we draw from this crisis is that all humans matter equally, that we need to give a hand, raise one another, flourish or perish together- no matter what our limitations are, we’re capable of a great deal. This virus backlash is nothing short of a fleeting lesson to all leaders about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. Those who regard themselves as wonderfully favored of leadership, power and pelf are called to do great things. Anything that constantly arise to cause conflicts or disunion must be questioned, criticized, denounced and judged.

Be it a forced contemplation of our mortality or a sudden urge of self denial or an awareness of the passage of time and life, this screeching halt is proof that humans are designed to be more productive when connected, even in isolation. So, not all hope is lost. The time has come when we must know for ourselves why we believe in humanity as we do.

“Do something good for somebody today; the people who are trying to make the world worst aren’t taking days off.”

Gestures to honor humanity are varied, aplenty. A flypast in India is a cruel joke on the already tumbling down economy and on the selfless humanitarians who spare nothing to reach out. We can only wish the trail of showered petals, if showered will guide the departing victims of COVID19. Flying past/over ground realities is a highly irresponsible act of governments. Also, a misuse and mismanagement of meagre resources.

Was it a premonition that urged saint Thiruvalluvar, celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher to get on with kural 578 which when translated into English goes as

” The world is theirs (Kings) who are able to show kindness, without injury to their affairs, (administration of Justice).

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Congress’s Electoral Enervation

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BlakeShramster / CC BY-SA

Lately, the Grand Old Party of India has been suffering from severe political lacerations. It is bleeding profusely but it still refuses to recognize and feel the pain of its grisly wounds. The Congress party is obstinately practicing political podsnappery and this is further eviscerating its relevance. Slowly and steadily, its ideological roots are being chipped away. We are witnessing a kind of dilemmatic democratic party, which is strangulating in the ever-shifting tectonic plates of Indian politics. The fresh act of defection by Jyotiraditya Scindia foregrounds the ideologically weak aura which now surrounds the Congress.

In every period of its history, a particular type of ideological encrustation surrounded the Congress and illuminated its charm among the Indian voters. This ideology rooted it firmly in a vast network of ideologies. This ideology, for the most part, has been secular and liberal and acted as a strong bulwark against a xenophobically framed anti-secular strategy. But now, this prodigious party has shrunk to a miniscule group. This cataclysmic contraction has happened primarily due to the elitist imagery to which it was tethered. Congress’s political rivals portrayed it as an inherently elitist group by harping on its corruption scandals like the Satyam Scam, Coal Scam, Chopper Scam, Adarsh Scam and Tatra Truck Scam. All this overemphasis on the financial impurity of the Congress led to the citizens believing that the Congress party is an aristocratic admixture of kleptocracy and bogus secularism.

The political dynasticism of the Congress further solidified this elitist imagery and soon, Congress became the ‘suit, boot ki Sarkar’. The usage of the aforementioned epithet successfully established the presence of the Congress party as a technocratic liberal party, accustomed to high-handed bureaucratic methods of administration. The attribute of a ‘pro-people party’ was snatched away from the Congress and it was represented as a technocratic group, largely unconnected from the material conditions of the citizens.

Apart from the political and financial palm-greasing, the Congress has also been disemboweled due to its confounding ideological quagmire. The Grand Old Party is stuck in a regal fort, where it is continuously wavering between a secular strategy and a thinly-veiled contrivance of religious pandering. It has already flip-flopped on its ideological plank by pitching Rahul Gandhi as a religious leader which actually backfired because people at once understood that he had suddenly become a synthetically Hinduized leader.

And now, it is lending its support to the Anti-CAA protests and has all of a sudden, arrived like a knight in shining armor, chaotically shouting secular slogans. Opportunistic acts like these cause severe trust deficit and the party incurs widespread odium for its electoral opportunism. So, due to the Congress’s ideological shilly-shally, its attempt to provide guidance to the Anti-CAA protests is seen as a crude act of politically hijacking the protests. To say succinctly, the Congress has been utterly passive in reacting to some major political events and has not even tried to extend its sinews to drag itself out from the quicksand of financial dissoluteness and ideological vacillation.

Due to all the above mentioned iniquitous inadequacies, Congress is withering and losing its elephantine presence on the electoral platform. This is the most appropriate time for the Congress to recognize its Achilles heel and try to overcome this deficiency. The defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia highlights the fact that now, an ideological string no longer ties any Congress member and the party needs to alter its highly feudal organizational structure which is identical to a form of royal structure, based on monarchical munificence. The Congress party can utilize the following remedial measures to perform the medical operation which is indispensable for it to regain its health.

Constitutional Struggles

It should try assiduously to interconnect itself with the common masses and change its political behavioral pattern by staging what can be called ‘constitutional struggles’. These constitutional struggles will essentially be democratic demonstrations, aiming to recover the lost sheen of the constitution. These protests should be able to blend constitutional patriotism with a Gandhian non-violent idea of struggle. In this way, the Congress party would be successful in politically fructifying its vast receptacles of historical significance and will harmonize its history as a torchbearer of freedom with the present calamitous conditions. One important reason behind the need to make Mahatma Gandhi the vanguard of Congress’s recuperation struggle is the vast space which he occupies in the collective imagination of the Indian citizens. By spotlighting Gandhi, the Congress party can easily initiate a resistance movement whose objective will be to find the Gandhian truths in this age of political prevarications and fabrications.

Change Organizational Configurations

The Congress party needs to change its organizational configurations. The sybaritic structure of dynasticism should be superseded by a bottom-up approach which is decentralized. The present organizational architecture is extremely centralistic and all the members of the Congress party are seen as the supine members of a sycophantic entourage, revolving around the singular nucleus of nobility, which has invariably been the Gandhi family. The senior members of the Congress party such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and Manmohan Singh are depicted as the servile stooges of the Gandhi family who possess an unbreakable fidelity to the dynastic autocracy of the Congress party. The congress leadership is also currently rudderless. During the elections, it played the role of a dabbler. After Indira Gandhi, all the Gandhis (Except Sanjay Gandhi) were reluctant politicians. They were compelled because the Nehru – Gandhi name was associated with the party. All these aspects of party functioning need to be radically changed so that non-Gandhi members are not seen as mere appendages of the supposed undisputed overlord which is the Gandhi family. (3) A coherently unified ideological political programme needs to be built. The lumbering party is in a state of delirium and is unable to properly specify its political stance. It should solidly settle this predicament by choosing to continue with its former political posture as a truly secular and democratic party, committed to constitutional values. If this operation is not undertaken, the Congress will be finally consigned to the political graveyard, where it will die with its shambolic ideological structure.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Sibling Bond

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siblings relations

Blood is always thicker than water. This is one of the most appropriate proverbs one can find.

Blood relations always prove to be the most important and everything fades away when it comes to your own blood. Sibling bond is one of the closest bonds one can have.

During childhood any child with a sibling can understand that bond and feel the closeness on that bond. In Spite of endless fights, disagreements, siblings love each other the most and are very protective of each other.

It is very easy to maintain this bond while you are younger and living together, the challenge comes to maintain that bond while you grow up and start moving towards your own social and domestic life. Here are some tips how you can strengthen your sibling bond while still handling your work, social and domestic life:

1. Plan Holidays Together:

Make a pact that every year you all will get together and plan a holiday either with family(if married) or just all the siblings together. it will make sure that you are taking time out for yourselves and not getting faded in everyday life.

2. Have a Private Group Chat:

Siblings can make sure that you all initiate private group chats and make sure you share your everyday routine, happiness, problems etc in order to keep everyone in the loop of your life.

Group chat makes sure that you are catching up on each other on an everyday basis and is a constant part of each other’s lives.

3. Send Gifts to Each Other:

Siblings can plan to send each other gifts on different occasions that will help in building a close relationship with each other. Sometimes, it is possible your sibling might be based far away or in a foreign country. There are so many online platforms available where you can send a gift to your siblings whether its online birthday cake delivery or online rakhi delivery etc. everything is available on online portals.

4. Help each other in Reaching Goals:

Siblings are the most important people who can push you towards your goal. Siblings can encourage each other towards what is the best course to take for a bright future. Sometimes a sibling can recognise your potential much faster than you yourself can. Thus it is important that you share your goals and aspirations and listen to each other in order to go forward in your life.

5. Cultivate Friendship:

It is very important that siblings should cultivate not only sibling bonds but become best friends and should be able to confide in each other. This is only possible if they work on developing only  siblings but a friendship bond. A good friendship will ensure that it becomes very easy for siblings to communicate with each other and discuss any issues they might face. It is important that the friendship is of a level that when one sibling needs help they should reach their sibling in the very first course.

So, these were some tips that can strengthen your singing bond. If you follow these tips, you can make sure that you will become best friends with your siblings and will have a great relationship despite a life of your own.

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