INDIA’S FAULTLINES AND THE SEVEN SISTERS
One commentator in the daily The Hindu remarking, “Fundamental question is how aliens can terrorize Indians in India? Assam is on the way to become another Kashmir, a much more sinister one at that because of the twin evil of vote bank politics and negligent attitude towards the North East in general”.
By Adeela Naureen
The recent up scaled violence and mayhem in India’s North Eastern state of Assam between Bodos and Ashoms is just tip of the iceberg of the powder keg called the seven sisters. Falling along the eastern border of Bangladesh (and not essentially bordering it) these include Assam, Arunachel Pradesh(NEFA),Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalia, Mizoram and Tripura. Wasbir Hussain in an article as far back as in 2001, ‘Insurgency in India's Northeast Cross-border Links and Strategic Alliances in Indian Institute for Conflict Management described the situation as the simmering North East as “India's Northeast is one of South Asia's hottest trouble spots, not simply because the region has as many as 30 armed insurgent organizations operating and fighting the Indian state, but because trans-border linkages that these groups have, and strategic alliances among them, have acted as force multipliers and have made the conflict dynamics all the more intricate. With demands of these insurgent groups ranging from secession to autonomy and the right to self-determination, and a plethora of ethnic groups clamoring for special rights and the protection of their distinct identity, the region is bound to be a turbulent one. Moreover, the location of the eight northeastern Indian States itself is part of the reason why it has always been a hotbed of militancy with trans-border ramifications. This region of 263,000 square kilometers three shares highly porous and sensitive frontiers with China in the North, Myanmar in the East, Bangladesh in the South West and Bhutan to the North West. The region's strategic location is underlined by the fact that it shares a 4,500 km-long international border with its four South Asian neighbors, but is connected to the Indian mainland by a tenuous 22 km-long land corridor passing through Siliguri in the eastern State of West Bengal, appropriately described as the ‘Chicken's Neck”.
The recent surge of ethnic violence has led to deployment of Army in the troubled districts of Assam where almost 1,70,000 people have been forcibly removed from their homes and have been put into temporary shelters, reminding of the Nazi concentration camps. Despite the fact that Indian media has downplayed the exodus of this tragic happening, the general public in India has shown abhorrence to the Muslims of Assam, with one commentator in the daily The Hindu remarking, “Fundamental question is how aliens can terrorize Indians in India? Assam is on the way to become another Kashmir, a much more sinister one at that because of the twin evil of vote bank politics and negligent attitude towards the North East in general”.
Where are the champions of human rights in India, the so called international community and the very vocal and vibrant media intellectuals within Pakistan? Whether it is the prosecution of Rohingias of Myanmar ot the ruthless killings of Assame muslims in India, everyone is so quiet and unmoved, probably our intellectuals cannot annoy their paymasters in Dehli and Mambai. After all Muslim blood is the cheapest to be spilled across the globe, from Afghanistan to Arakan and from Tripoli to Kokrajhar. So it has to be one Dr Munawar Hassan to remind this sleeping nation of 180 million that we should be able to at least raise our voice in a strong protest.
So where is India the mighty heading for, I will quote some conclusion from a private study, “Indian Union’s control over her resurgent population specially the oppressed communities is eroding, it is only a matter of time when instability in the hot beds of revolution reaches a critical point of no return leading to loss of central control and call for autonomy and independence along the identified fault lines.
There is a general un awareness of ‘Indian internal conflicts’ in Pakistan due to lack of proper focus as well as distance factor. We do not have any dedicated institution to study Indian internal polity due to stereotype attitudes. The Muslims of India other than Kashmir have been left at Indian mercy for too long and there is a clear blackout of information on these communities and their plight. Pakistan and international community have an obligation to provide moral support to oppressed communities of India; after all India has always raised questions on Baluchistan and even Northern Areas whenever they have found an opportunity. Interestingly Indian media and her think tanks project the themes of fails states in South Asia and opine that all states surrounding India are either failed or failing states, it is time for India to reflect that actually she is the basket case for a failed state.
Indian establishment and her media have successively be fooled the international community on the plight of her down trodden masses as well as apartheid treatment meted out to Dalits and Muslims with the themes of ‘Shining India’ and milk and honey flowing through the Ganges River. The voices of oppressed communities of India have been snubbed under a thick blanket of ‘all is well’. It is high time the international community abides by their obligation of moral and diplomatic support to the oppressed of India.
International community must understand that Indian fault lines are real and have the potential to destabilize the whole region; the nuclearized South Asia cannot afford an India with exorbitant expenditure on arms and arsenal spending where her oppressed communities become desperate leading to loss of political control. India must put her house in order before embarking upon her journey to the so called greatness.
Pakistan and international community should provide forums to the oppressed Indian communities in voicing their concerns and help them in achieving semblance of basic human rights. In this time of information age the regional and international media (including print and electronic) has an obligation to come forward and deliver the oppressed communities of India from the centuries of exploitation and oppression.
(Adeela Naureen is a Zimbabwe based Pakistani and works as a freelance journalist, she is working on the social issues confronting Pakistan and Zimbabwe, the psychological cost of the Long War as well as phenomenon of Musharaffization of Pakistani society)