RB talks to Adwoy: A Teen In Assam
19 year old, Adwoy Purkayastha was born and raised in Assam, where the NRC excluded 1.9 million people, rendering them stateless with their fates uncertain. Adwoy shares with us his thoughts, feelings and experience as a teenage boy in Assam.
I live in Silchar, the second-largest town of Assam, lying in the southern part of the state. I'm 19 years old and pursuing my Bachelor's Degree in Commerce. If you ask a Bengali like me who loves his language, who is proud of his culture and traditions, though it might not have made it to the headlines of newspapers in Bengal, nor global headlines, grave atrocities have systematically been conducted since the post-partition period in Assam.
Assam's conflicts have largely been ethno-based if one searches for Nellie, Goreshwar, North Kamrup, Khoirabari, the Silapathar massacre or the Bongal Kheda of the 1960s. Time and again, Bengalis have been killed and displaced from their land. A person wearing a 'dhoti' or 'lungi', eating dried fish or speaking Bengali has always been doubted to be a foreigner.
Foreigner Tribunals or Detention Camps are not something new or alien to this state. Since childhood, I have been hearing stories of Bengalis despite possessing all document still being unjustifiably declared foreigner by Tribunals and then taken to detention camps. NRC has just intensified or expedited that process as 1.9 million people became deemed "foreigner" in a single night and have had to approach Tribunals for defending their claims, spending their hard-earned money. It is imperative to discuss BJP's advent at the point when the NRC process was going on. As we all know BJP grabbed a lion's share of Hindu votes and came to power in Assam and India furthermore. The fears of the Assamese and the BJP miraculously coincided regarding foreigners grabbing the lands, but on different fronts.
Assamese nationalists were largely secular in terms of religion whilst the BJP was pushing for Hindu-Bangladeshis to become Indian citizens, this was met with vehement protests in all parts of the state. Realising that Assam's politics moved on ethnicity & not religion, the BJP backtracked as it wouldn't have been wise to lose Assamese votes, who formed a majority in the state.
People had started to understand that the bill was just a gimmick to grab votes. When I look at the people of my land, I don't even think about what religion they are. They are my own people whom I have seen as I grew up.
How can they be rendered stateless suddenly at the stroke of a pen? They are working for this country only after all! Many of them served the armed forces, worked as teachers, worked as govt. employees worked as doctors serving patients, worked as lawyers fighting cases, worked as engineers building infrastructure. All their contributions have been towards this nation. I only hope that the UN will respond to this humanitarian crisis if the Indian Government does not do anything about it. The British divided the Bengalis on religious lines and the same thing is happening now. We are bearing the brunt of partition to this very day.
I would only like Bengalis living everywhere in the world to understand that we all should put aside our religious differences and fight as a united one like Kaji Nazrul Islam said :
"হিন্দু না ওরা মুসলিম? ওই জিজ্ঞাসে কোন জন?
কান্ডারী! বল ডুবিছে মানুষ, সন্তান মোর মা’র!”
"Hindu or Muslim? Who even asks?
Kandari, people are dying, all are children of my mother"