ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Shameful Indifference

The colossal humanitarian tragedy in Assam has failed to generate national concern.

It is being called India’s worst humanitarian tragedy. By any measure, 4,00,000 people being forced to leave their homes because of ethnic violence is a crisis that should make everyone sit up. Yet, the Assam tragedy – that has continued to play out after the first clashes between Bodos and Muslim settlers took place in mid-July – has failed to become a national concern. It remains confined to the borders of Assam. The responsibility of dealing with it has been left to the administrative abilities of the Assam government that has failed to tackle either the violence or to provide relief to the lakhs of displaced people of different ethnicities.

Apart from the Assam government’s obvious shortcomings, the “mainland” media has also failed to bring home to the rest of the country the extent and the seriousness of the crisis. Barring one or two exceptions, the majority of television news channels have given only sporadic coverage to the conditions in the impossibly crowded relief camps, where people are dying because medical assistance is not available. This is the kind of crisis that should spur teams of journalists from leading media houses to send in detailed reports about conditions on the ground. Only then can media exert the kind of pressure that is needed to compel the state government and the centre to take decisive steps to curb the ethnic violence as well as ensure that those who have sought shelter to escape the violence do not die because of the conditions in the relief camps.

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