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

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Congress Culpability on Assam?

To the question posed in the title the likely and obvious answer would be the Assamese, unless scholars like Vani Kant Borooah would hasten to add “other” communities. In the article “The Killing Fields of Assam: Myth and Reality of Its Muslim Immigration” (EPW, 26 January 2013) Borooah draws attention to those “other” communities of Assam to show that the question of belonging to Assam has never been uncomplicated, uncontested and simple; a question over which Assam was partitioned in 1947 to be followed by a series of violent identity-based movements thereafter.

It is well known that intercommunity relations in Assam, between the Assamese and the Bengalis in particular, have been far from cordial. Rather, it has been anxiety, hostility and violence ridden for over a century and a half now. The riots in western Assam in 2012 prove that yet again. At the heart of the hostile relationship is the issue of the movement of Bengali-speaking Muslims to Assam. Borooah takes up their case, as Nilim Dutta and Banajit Hussain, for instance, also do, to argue that it is crucial to subject the “bogey of Bengali Muslim immigration” to thorough scrutiny by a non-partisan reading – by following Moynihan and hence, relying on “facts” and not “opinions” – of the census-generated statistical data.

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