News and Society

Why It’s Unfair To Blame The Entire Tribal Population Of Assam

“[…] I am an Assamese. Believe me, I am speaking the truth. My father’s name is Gopal Chandra Das and mother’s name is Radhika Das… please let me go.” – these are the lines Nilotpal said while he and Abhijit Nath were being attacked.

The Fatal Incident

June 8, 2018, was one of the saddest days the people of Assam have gone through in recent times. The nation should not forget this day either.

It was the day when two gentlemen were lynched by a mob of around 100 people. The incident happened when Nilotpal Das, a talented sound designer based in Goa, and Abhijeet Nath, a businessman from Guwahati, went to visit the beautiful waterfall Kangthilangso in Karbi Anglong district of Assam. The two nature-lovers enjoyed the site till 7:30 PM. While returning from the waterfall, the duo was stopped by the 100-strong mob in Panijuri village. The mob dragged them out from their SUV and then beaten to death.

The duo was killed on the wrong suspicion of being child traffickers.

Protest And Anguish

There have been nationwide protests after the incident to nab the culprits – all demanding the strictest punishment. Not only in India, people across the world also protested against the barbaric act. People have taken to various means like music, candle light marches, silent marches, placards, posters, banners etc.

Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp have also been flooded with various posts, articles and analyses on the incident. Here too, people have condemned this savage deed in the harshest of words.

Investigation And Arrest

The police immediately started investigating the incident. According to a news report, around 30 people have been arrested till now in connection with the incident. However, the video of the lynching, circulated on social media, shows hundreds of people beating and thrashing the two young men. So many of the accused people are on the run. The police should nab all those involved in this cruel act.

Justice Or Revenge?

We the people of Assam have lost two most-talented young men. One of them was a popular sound designer, who was promoting Assamese culture and music across the world; the other was a young successful businessman. It will probably be impossible for us to make up for this loss. Their only ‘fault’ in the whole saga was that they loved nature. 

Justice needs to be given to the victims – and it’s not something we should be demanding or begging for, it’s the ultimate right. Why do we need fight for the justice which should ideally be provided by the state machinery? Unfortunately, we are living in the largest democracy in the world, where getting justice is not easy. Rather, the pain of waiting for justice is indefinable.

While people are crying and demanding for justice for Nilotpal and Abhijeet, there are some who are still spreading hatred in society. With each passing day, social media is filling up with hate messages/comments, threatening videos and posts spreading communal hatred. A section of people are taking the advantage of the situation and are threatening and torturing people. Terming and branding the entire tribal population as junglees, uncivilised, cannibals and uneducated. Some people are generalising and blaming the entire tribal population, while others are specifically accusing the Karbi, Bodo and Rabha communities.

My question is – how can you blame entire tribal populations for this incident? How can you accuse a whole community when the crime has been done only by a group, which includes non-tribal people too? Also, how can you question my Assamese identity because of this incident? How can you chase away all the tribal people from the cities? Being a Bodo and then an Assamese, it hurts when you blame me for a crime I didn’t commit. It hurts when you say, “You have killed the Assamese, you junglee tribal, you cannibal Bodo!”

Abhijit Nath and Nilotpal Das

The question then arises – who is the ‘real’ Assamese? The people who blame the tribal people should know the history of this land. They should know the contribution which the tribal people have made to make the Assamese culture a great one.

When you blame Kabis, Bodos, Rabhas and the entire tribal population, then you are simply ignorant. You are also disrespecting Rongbong Terang, a renowned writer who led the Assam Sahitya Sabha. When you blame the tribal people, you are disrespecting the CM of our state Sarbananda Sonowal, and Jaatiya Nayak (who was also a leader during the Assam Agitation). When you question our identity of ‘Assamese-ness’, then you are insulting Probin Baro, one of the longest-serving former presidents of the All Assam Students’ Union. You are dishonoring Bishnu Rabha, who enriched the Assamese identity. You are forgetting Padmashree Jadav Payeng, the ‘forest man of India’. You are insulting the revolutionary Mithinga Daimary, who fought for Assamese identity and sovereignty. You are insulting Pabitra Rabha, Bhimbor Deuri, Taburam Tayi, Mrinal Miri, Kiron Baro, whose contributions to bringing the Assamese identity to this level were immense. You are insulting Kalicharan Brahma, a social reformer and his contribution to Assamese language. You are insulting Madhuram Baro, a literary icon and former chief editor. You are insulting Anjali Daimary, a woman activist who has advocated significantly in the UN Women forum and other international and national platforms. You are not respecting Makhon Doley, Ankoshiota Baro (an international boxing champion), Halicharan Narzary (an Indian footballer) – and the list goes on.

A section of the youngsters should know about their origins before they question us. Before blaming the entire tribal population, they should know how many tribal people died in the freedom struggle. You should know many tribal people died during the Assam Agitation. You should know how many Bodos have brought laurels to this state – be it in sport, singing and dancing, beauty contests, etc.

Blaming the entire tribal population will not bring any positive solution. Blaming particular communities will not improve the situation. We need to work towards eradicating superstitions, fighting against social media hoaxes, educating people and working for the poor and downtrodden.

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