Last month we were witness to a large number of people from the North-East crowding the railway stations at Bangalore and Chennai in a hurry to leave for their hometowns. Conflict in Assam had not only disrupted life in Assam, but had affected lives of people from the North-East residing in the rest of India.
To understand the issue and work out a possible safeguard against ignorance and prejudice, the Centre for North East Studies on Sept. 3, 2012, organized a formal discussion on the situation in Assam at the Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir.
The conference included eminent scholars, professionals and people from the government sector; namely: Prof. Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North East Studies, JMI who also chaired the discussion, Prof. Udayon Misra, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Guwahati; Dr. Roshmi Goswami, UN Women; Dr. Monisha Behal, Chairperson North East Network; Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, Govt. of India; Prof. Anil Boro, Gauhati University; Mr. Helal Choudhury, Advocate, Supreme Court; Mr. Kalyan Barooah, Delhi Correspondent, The Assam Tribune; and Mr. Kishalay Bhattacharjee, NDTV N-E Editor.
“This effort is aimed at hearing voices of some sanity and of depth in the situation that prevails in Assam and in the North East today,” Sanjoy Hazarika said. “I am from Assam and I certainly have been deeply anguished and disturbed by the conflict that has erupted, the violence that has been inflicted upon communities and individuals. And the fact that, as the media has been describing it, has become the single largest human tragedy in India post-partition in terms of the number of the people displaced,” he expressed.
The panelists discussed about the social diversity in the North East, the tribal belts, the perpetual debates on land and migration. They stated that every critical problem in the North East is related to identity and land. Mr. Helal Choudhury specifically discussed issues of immigration, the extremely sensitive and explosive issue of illegal immigration, and migration, concluding that different elements of the population should be given recognition and representation. Dr. Monisha Behal expressed concern upon the rate of school dropouts in the violence-struck areas, saying that the new generation will grow up in “educational darkness.”
As the media faces harsh criticism from the government and others for giving out misleading information on the Assam issue, Kishayalay Bhattacharjee from NDTV talked in detail about preposterous journalism including the social media. He also put forth the advantages and the need in the Indian media industry to have a protocol before sending a journalist to a conflict area. Bhattacharjee also reflected upon the images sent out by the media that might be haunting but are not accurate.
“The groups that have fled Bangalore and Pune may be going back, but it’s also a signal of how insecure people felt even in the places where they have been living for years. It is a reflection of India and the state it is in,” said Sanjoy Hazarika. “Take action against hateful acts; don’t just deal with hateful speeches. This is one of the major tests of the Government of Assam, people of Assam, organizations that work there and as well as the Government of India,” he concluded.
[This report only covers the first session of the discussion. There were two sessions.]
Listen to the opening remarks made by Professor Sanjoy Hazarika at the discussion on conflict in Assam. Click on the following link:
Download Audio: “Sanjoy Hazarika opening remarks” – Sept. 3, 2012 – 6-minutes – 2.1 Mb – MP3