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Anti Bengali sentiment grows in Assam

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

For many people in eastern India, Bangladeshi means Bengali. It indicates that everyone living in Bangladesh must be a Bengali. But in reality, However, Assams neighbouring nation Bangladesh is  actually  a secular identity comprising various ethnic tribes. The populous country is however dominated by Muslim population where almost everyone speaks Bengali language.
The people of Assam somehow maintain a strained relationship with the Bengali nationals, even though some of the distinguished Bengali personalities have contributed in the growth of Assamese language and culture.
When West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee publicly criticized the process of National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation in Assam, many Assamese intellectuals came out with the easy conclusion that Bengali can never be friend to Assamese. They thus knowingly or unknowingly disgraced the sizable Bengali speaking populace of Barak valley in the State.
Emerged as a straight forward and energetic politician of the country, Ms Mamata on 3 January made a controversial statement that the NRC updating process in Assam  was a ‘conspiracy to drive away Bengali people’ from the State. She also asked her party Parliamentarians to raise voice against the NRC in New Delhi. Later a public meeting was also organized  in Kolkata to gather public supports against the process.
The Assam government  claims  that it was updating the NRC under the direction & supervision of the Supreme Court and its first draft was published on the midnight of 31 December 2017. The much-awaited updating of 1951 NRC comprised 1.9 crore people out of around 3.29 crore total applicants in the first draft. The process of updating began in 2013, which received 6.5 crore supporting documents comprising  68.27 lakh families residing in the State. The second and final part of the draft is expected to be published by this year.
Need not to mention that it’s a follow-up action of Assam Accord, signed by the leaders of All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Gana Sangram Parishad in 1985 with the Union government in New Delhi in presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The historic memorandum of understanding puts responsibility on the Centre to detect and deport all migrants mostly Bedngali people  form  East Pakistani and Bangladesh who entered Assam after 25 March 1971.  In other words, the agreement accepted all residents prior to the dateline as Indian nationals in Assam even though the movement was run with the spirit of 1951 as the base year to detect illegal migrants like the other parts of India. It also mentioned about constitutional safeguards to the indigenous communities of Assam to be facilitated by the Centre.
The influx of  illegal Bangladeshi migrants remains a vital socio-political issue for Assam along with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur of northeast India still today. With the emotion and the anxiety of turning minority in own lands, Assam movement erupted in Eighties and culminated with the agreement.  The development finally empowered Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), born out of the popular movement  with the same leadership of AASU coming to power in the State for two separate terms, but shockingly the regional party leaders followed their predecessors and simply betrayed the people over the issue.
Now the AGP is an ally to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led government at Dispur under the chief ministership of Sarbananda Sonowal, who was once the president of AASU. Unlike the Congress or AGP regimes, the new government that came to power in May 2016 has taken the issue of influx little seriously.
The citizens have seemingly reposed faith over the authority on updating the NRC and hence contrary to the widespread apprehensions of unpleasant situation arising after the release of the NRC draft, no unwanted incidents were reported from any part of the State.  The government authorities along with various political parties, civil society & advocacy group representatives and the media definitely deserve appreciations for their pragmatic roles in maintaining peace across the region after the release of the NRC draft, even though many people could not find their names in the list.
However Ms Mamata wanted to be a saviour of Bengali people and started commenting against the NRC Assam updation. But amazingly, not to speak of her State people, she even could not convince the Bengali speaking people of Assam. They denounced her intention and clarified that the Trinamool Congress chief was never a guardian or spokesperson for the Bengali community.
They had a relevant question to her, if Ms Mamata was so concerned about the fate of  Bengali people, why she had been opposing the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 that would  grant citizenship to the persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after due processes. If the citizenship act is amended in the Parliament, hundred thousand Hindu Bengalis (with few other communities) would get Indian citizenships.  Leaving aside few politicians in Barak valley, Sadou Asom Bangali Parishad, Bengali Students’ Federation of Assam, Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sabha etc denounced Ms Mamata for her disrespectful comments against the apex court and the people of Assam. They stated loud and clear that the Bengali and Assamese people were living in Assam happily and ‘no outsiders should poke their noses into it’.  Meanwhile, politicians in power, social outfits, number of distinguished individuals of Assam came with critical comments against the Bengal chief minister. They were unanimous in their views that Ms Mamata was trying to communalize the process for the sack of her vote bank politics.
Assam government spokesperson Chandra Mohan Patowary, powerful State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam BJP president Ranjit Das, AGP president Atul Bora, Assam Congress president Ripun Bora,  AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya, Assam Public Works chief Abhijit Sarma, KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi with many others had criticized Ms Mamata for her irrational statements.
Assam also witnessed series of protest demonstrations against Ms Banerjee for her stand over the NRC updation in the State. At least three FIRs were lodged against the firebrand politician in different police stations of Assam (by Krisak Shramik Kalyan Parishad president Pradip Kalita, Guwahati based advocate SN Das and social activist Kailash Sarma) for her derogatory comments indirectly targeting the apex court of the country.
The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA), in a strong statement, pointed out that Ms Mamata was trying to play a cunning game as a few Bengali politicians of yesteryear, including her predecessor Communist leader Jyoti Basu, along with a bunch of intellectuals in favour of minority appeasement policies, had done the same during the Assam movement.
The PPFA appreciated the Bengali people living in Assam for their stand against those politicians who often run behind the cheap political gains out of any crisis. It also supported the demand raised by few nationalist Bengali politicians including Dilip Ghosh to have NRC updating process in West Bengal as well to segregate the illegal Bangladeshis from the indigenous Bengalis.

Comment

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

For many people in eastern India, Bangladeshi means Bengali. It indicates that everyone living in Bangladesh must be a Bengali. But in reality, However, Assams neighbouring nation Bangladesh is  actually  a secular identity comprising various ethnic tribes. The populous country is however dominated by Muslim population where almost everyone speaks Bengali language.
The people of Assam somehow maintain a strained relationship with the Bengali nationals, even though some of the distinguished Bengali personalities have contributed in the growth of Assamese language and culture.
When West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee publicly criticized the process of National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation in Assam, many Assamese intellectuals came out with the easy conclusion that Bengali can never be friend to Assamese. They thus knowingly or unknowingly disgraced the sizable Bengali speaking populace of Barak valley in the State.
Emerged as a straight forward and energetic politician of the country, Ms Mamata on 3 January made a controversial statement that the NRC updating process in Assam  was a ‘conspiracy to drive away Bengali people’ from the State. She also asked her party Parliamentarians to raise voice against the NRC in New Delhi. Later a public meeting was also organized  in Kolkata to gather public supports against the process.
The Assam government  claims  that it was updating the NRC under the direction & supervision of the Supreme Court and its first draft was published on the midnight of 31 December 2017. The much-awaited updating of 1951 NRC comprised 1.9 crore people out of around 3.29 crore total applicants in the first draft. The process of updating began in 2013, which received 6.5 crore supporting documents comprising  68.27 lakh families residing in the State. The second and final part of the draft is expected to be published by this year.
Need not to mention that it’s a follow-up action of Assam Accord, signed by the leaders of All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Gana Sangram Parishad in 1985 with the Union government in New Delhi in presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The historic memorandum of understanding puts responsibility on the Centre to detect and deport all migrants mostly Bedngali people  form  East Pakistani and Bangladesh who entered Assam after 25 March 1971.  In other words, the agreement accepted all residents prior to the dateline as Indian nationals in Assam even though the movement was run with the spirit of 1951 as the base year to detect illegal migrants like the other parts of India. It also mentioned about constitutional safeguards to the indigenous communities of Assam to be facilitated by the Centre.
The influx of  illegal Bangladeshi migrants remains a vital socio-political issue for Assam along with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur of northeast India still today. With the emotion and the anxiety of turning minority in own lands, Assam movement erupted in Eighties and culminated with the agreement.  The development finally empowered Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), born out of the popular movement  with the same leadership of AASU coming to power in the State for two separate terms, but shockingly the regional party leaders followed their predecessors and simply betrayed the people over the issue.
Now the AGP is an ally to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led government at Dispur under the chief ministership of Sarbananda Sonowal, who was once the president of AASU. Unlike the Congress or AGP regimes, the new government that came to power in May 2016 has taken the issue of influx little seriously.
The citizens have seemingly reposed faith over the authority on updating the NRC and hence contrary to the widespread apprehensions of unpleasant situation arising after the release of the NRC draft, no unwanted incidents were reported from any part of the State.  The government authorities along with various political parties, civil society & advocacy group representatives and the media definitely deserve appreciations for their pragmatic roles in maintaining peace across the region after the release of the NRC draft, even though many people could not find their names in the list.
However Ms Mamata wanted to be a saviour of Bengali people and started commenting against the NRC Assam updation. But amazingly, not to speak of her State people, she even could not convince the Bengali speaking people of Assam. They denounced her intention and clarified that the Trinamool Congress chief was never a guardian or spokesperson for the Bengali community.
They had a relevant question to her, if Ms Mamata was so concerned about the fate of  Bengali people, why she had been opposing the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 that would  grant citizenship to the persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after due processes. If the citizenship act is amended in the Parliament, hundred thousand Hindu Bengalis (with few other communities) would get Indian citizenships.  Leaving aside few politicians in Barak valley, Sadou Asom Bangali Parishad, Bengali Students’ Federation of Assam, Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sabha etc denounced Ms Mamata for her disrespectful comments against the apex court and the people of Assam. They stated loud and clear that the Bengali and Assamese people were living in Assam happily and ‘no outsiders should poke their noses into it’.  Meanwhile, politicians in power, social outfits, number of distinguished individuals of Assam came with critical comments against the Bengal chief minister. They were unanimous in their views that Ms Mamata was trying to communalize the process for the sack of her vote bank politics.
Assam government spokesperson Chandra Mohan Patowary, powerful State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam BJP president Ranjit Das, AGP president Atul Bora, Assam Congress president Ripun Bora,  AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya, Assam Public Works chief Abhijit Sarma, KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi with many others had criticized Ms Mamata for her irrational statements.
Assam also witnessed series of protest demonstrations against Ms Banerjee for her stand over the NRC updation in the State. At least three FIRs were lodged against the firebrand politician in different police stations of Assam (by Krisak Shramik Kalyan Parishad president Pradip Kalita, Guwahati based advocate SN Das and social activist Kailash Sarma) for her derogatory comments indirectly targeting the apex court of the country.
The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA), in a strong statement, pointed out that Ms Mamata was trying to play a cunning game as a few Bengali politicians of yesteryear, including her predecessor Communist leader Jyoti Basu, along with a bunch of intellectuals in favour of minority appeasement policies, had done the same during the Assam movement.
The PPFA appreciated the Bengali people living in Assam for their stand against those politicians who often run behind the cheap political gains out of any crisis. It also supported the demand raised by few nationalist Bengali politicians including Dilip Ghosh to have NRC updating process in West Bengal as well to segregate the illegal Bangladeshis from the indigenous Bengalis.


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New Delhi using so-called dialogue to dilute Kashmir movement: Syed Salahuddin

Greater Kashmir News

The chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC) and supreme commander of Hizbul Mujhahideen Syed Sallahudin on Thursday  hit out at New Delhi for what he termed as “using talks as an instrument to dilute the intensity of freedom movement in Kashmir.”
“Under the garb of so-called dialogue, successive regimes in New Delhi have always tried to create a smokescreen in the eyes of international community,” Salahuddin said.
“Our stance in this regard is crystal clear that the dispute of Kashmir can be resolved by implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir or through a meaningful, Kashmir-centric tripartite talks involving Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris who happens to be the basic and principle party to the dispute. Talks on Kashmir would be a charade unless these certain basic conditions were fulfilled,” he said.
Commenting on New Delhi’s point man Dineshwar Sharma’s engagement with different segments of Kashmiri society, the UJC chief said, “holding meetings with non-stakeholders, irrelevant political entities almost non-existent at local level is nothing but a mockery of dialogue”.
“The way Mr. Sharma is wandering aimlessly in Kashmir speaks volumes about the non-seriousness of the Indian government vis-à-vis Kashmir”, the UJC chief said adding that “the BJP government’s decision to appoint former IB Director Dineshwar Sharma as new interlocutor for Kashmir was tantamount to selling old wine in new bottles.”
“Sharma has actually been tasked to play the same role, which his predecessors like K C Pant, Arun Jaitley, Dileep Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar and others had played earlier”, he said.
“If New Delhi was really serious in resolving the long-pending dispute of Kashmir then it must not shy away from holding dialogue with those who really matter in Kashmir”, Sallahudin said
He said “ignoring the main stakeholders (resistance leadership) in Kashmir India like covering the Sun with one finger,” he added.
When asked about why the resistance leadership in Kashmir was so reluctant to meet the BJP’s point man on Kashmir, the Hizb supremo said, “The resistance leadership has never been averse to any dialogue process, but what they actually call for is a meaningful, time-bound and Kashmir centric dialogue”.
“Resistance leaders including the Jihadi leadership have always advocated and supported sincere and productive dialogue as a means of conflict resolution, but history stands witness to the fact that India had always used dialogue as a dilly-dallying tactics just to ward off internal and external pressure”, he maintained.
He said so far hundreds of rounds of bilateral dialogue have been held between India and Pakistan on the issue. “But these talks could never reach to any conclusion,” he said.
Stressing the need for resolving Kashmir in line with the relevant UN resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmir people, the Hizb chief said that “Kashmir issue was all about the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and there would be no compromise whatsoever on this issue.”

Comment

Greater Kashmir News

The chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC) and supreme commander of Hizbul Mujhahideen Syed Sallahudin on Thursday  hit out at New Delhi for what he termed as “using talks as an instrument to dilute the intensity of freedom movement in Kashmir.”
“Under the garb of so-called dialogue, successive regimes in New Delhi have always tried to create a smokescreen in the eyes of international community,” Salahuddin said.
“Our stance in this regard is crystal clear that the dispute of Kashmir can be resolved by implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir or through a meaningful, Kashmir-centric tripartite talks involving Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris who happens to be the basic and principle party to the dispute. Talks on Kashmir would be a charade unless these certain basic conditions were fulfilled,” he said.
Commenting on New Delhi’s point man Dineshwar Sharma’s engagement with different segments of Kashmiri society, the UJC chief said, “holding meetings with non-stakeholders, irrelevant political entities almost non-existent at local level is nothing but a mockery of dialogue”.
“The way Mr. Sharma is wandering aimlessly in Kashmir speaks volumes about the non-seriousness of the Indian government vis-à-vis Kashmir”, the UJC chief said adding that “the BJP government’s decision to appoint former IB Director Dineshwar Sharma as new interlocutor for Kashmir was tantamount to selling old wine in new bottles.”
“Sharma has actually been tasked to play the same role, which his predecessors like K C Pant, Arun Jaitley, Dileep Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar and others had played earlier”, he said.
“If New Delhi was really serious in resolving the long-pending dispute of Kashmir then it must not shy away from holding dialogue with those who really matter in Kashmir”, Sallahudin said
He said “ignoring the main stakeholders (resistance leadership) in Kashmir India like covering the Sun with one finger,” he added.
When asked about why the resistance leadership in Kashmir was so reluctant to meet the BJP’s point man on Kashmir, the Hizb supremo said, “The resistance leadership has never been averse to any dialogue process, but what they actually call for is a meaningful, time-bound and Kashmir centric dialogue”.
“Resistance leaders including the Jihadi leadership have always advocated and supported sincere and productive dialogue as a means of conflict resolution, but history stands witness to the fact that India had always used dialogue as a dilly-dallying tactics just to ward off internal and external pressure”, he maintained.
He said so far hundreds of rounds of bilateral dialogue have been held between India and Pakistan on the issue. “But these talks could never reach to any conclusion,” he said.
Stressing the need for resolving Kashmir in line with the relevant UN resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmir people, the Hizb chief said that “Kashmir issue was all about the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and there would be no compromise whatsoever on this issue.”


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Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View

Seiji Yamada

At 8:07 on Saturday morning, Hawaii residents woke up to an emergency alert on their cellphones:
Ballistic missile threat in bound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.
Until a second message called it a false alarm 38 minutes later, the people of Hawaii contemplated the end — the end of their lives, of their families, of essentially everything they know and love.
I am originally from Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park was within walking distance from my grandfather’s house.
As a family physician, I cared for Marshall Islander survivors of nuclear testing. Disaster medicine is one of my academic interests.
The war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un brings the world perilously close to nuclear Armageddon. As North Korea tests nuclear devices and delivery systems, the U.S. conducts military exercises and draws up plans for pre-emptive strikes.

Existential Moment
As adversaries go on hair-trigger alert, the potential for a mistakenly launched nuclear exchange increases. The probability of nuclear war thus approaches the probabilities that during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The standoffs at the Russian border and in Syria are other reasons why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have placed the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
Under these circumstances, the people of Hawaii had good reason to fear that the threat was real. Many surely had an existential moment.
We should all pause to contemplate how each of us lives each day.
Since on any given day the wind might pick up a roof tile from a Copenhagen building and drop it on one’s head, Kierkegaard suggested that we should live each day in a manner such that we would not regret sudden annihilation. We should all pause to contemplate how each of us lives each day.
A 100 kiloton blast over Honolulu would be expected to cause 156,000 fatalities and 139,000 injuries. Hawaii schools have issued guidance to shelter-in-place “[i]n the event of a nuclear attack.”  The air raid siren is now being tested monthly. Many argue for more robust missile defense for Hawaii.
Nine of 18 flight tests, however, of the missile defense system have failed. Technical experts express grave doubts about the ability of the system to defend against missile attack.
More missiles will not save us. Escalating military threats serves to increase the risk of a nuclear holocaust. The only rational response is prevention.
As pediatrician Helen Caldicott taught us, we must “eradicate nuclear weapons because they are medically contraindicated.” Her observation is not simply that nuclear war will ruin your day. Rather, her insight is that it is our duty as health workers to work to prevent nuclear war.
As Caldicott noted, the German physician, writer and politician Rudolph Virchow said:
Medicine is a social science and politics is medicine writ large,” and I’ve realized in this work that the only way to stop the nuclear arms race is to educate the politicians that nuclear war is medically contraindicated and, if they don’t believe us, remove them from office for the public health of the people of the world.
We need to revive the social movement to oppose the manufacture of nuclear weapons. We must first call for taking the weapons off of hair-trigger alert. We learned this Saturday that it is easy to make mistakes. Hawaii’s governor noted that an “employee pushed the wrong button.”
In this arena, pushing the wrong button has unacceptable consequences. My Kierkegaard moment this Saturday morning has convinced me that I am not doing enough to prevent nuclear war. I will work on correcting that.

Seiji Yamada, a native of Hiroshima, is a family physician practicing and teaching in Hawaii.
This column originally ran on Civil Beat (Honolulu).

Comment

Seiji Yamada

At 8:07 on Saturday morning, Hawaii residents woke up to an emergency alert on their cellphones:
Ballistic missile threat in bound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.
Until a second message called it a false alarm 38 minutes later, the people of Hawaii contemplated the end — the end of their lives, of their families, of essentially everything they know and love.
I am originally from Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park was within walking distance from my grandfather’s house.
As a family physician, I cared for Marshall Islander survivors of nuclear testing. Disaster medicine is one of my academic interests.
The war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un brings the world perilously close to nuclear Armageddon. As North Korea tests nuclear devices and delivery systems, the U.S. conducts military exercises and draws up plans for pre-emptive strikes.

Existential Moment
As adversaries go on hair-trigger alert, the potential for a mistakenly launched nuclear exchange increases. The probability of nuclear war thus approaches the probabilities that during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The standoffs at the Russian border and in Syria are other reasons why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have placed the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
Under these circumstances, the people of Hawaii had good reason to fear that the threat was real. Many surely had an existential moment.
We should all pause to contemplate how each of us lives each day.
Since on any given day the wind might pick up a roof tile from a Copenhagen building and drop it on one’s head, Kierkegaard suggested that we should live each day in a manner such that we would not regret sudden annihilation. We should all pause to contemplate how each of us lives each day.
A 100 kiloton blast over Honolulu would be expected to cause 156,000 fatalities and 139,000 injuries. Hawaii schools have issued guidance to shelter-in-place “[i]n the event of a nuclear attack.”  The air raid siren is now being tested monthly. Many argue for more robust missile defense for Hawaii.
Nine of 18 flight tests, however, of the missile defense system have failed. Technical experts express grave doubts about the ability of the system to defend against missile attack.
More missiles will not save us. Escalating military threats serves to increase the risk of a nuclear holocaust. The only rational response is prevention.
As pediatrician Helen Caldicott taught us, we must “eradicate nuclear weapons because they are medically contraindicated.” Her observation is not simply that nuclear war will ruin your day. Rather, her insight is that it is our duty as health workers to work to prevent nuclear war.
As Caldicott noted, the German physician, writer and politician Rudolph Virchow said:
Medicine is a social science and politics is medicine writ large,” and I’ve realized in this work that the only way to stop the nuclear arms race is to educate the politicians that nuclear war is medically contraindicated and, if they don’t believe us, remove them from office for the public health of the people of the world.
We need to revive the social movement to oppose the manufacture of nuclear weapons. We must first call for taking the weapons off of hair-trigger alert. We learned this Saturday that it is easy to make mistakes. Hawaii’s governor noted that an “employee pushed the wrong button.”
In this arena, pushing the wrong button has unacceptable consequences. My Kierkegaard moment this Saturday morning has convinced me that I am not doing enough to prevent nuclear war. I will work on correcting that.

Seiji Yamada, a native of Hiroshima, is a family physician practicing and teaching in Hawaii.
This column originally ran on Civil Beat (Honolulu).


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