28 February, 2021

Blame ’Em, Bludgeon ’Em

Assam’s violence has grown around suspicion of ‘outsiders’

Illustration by Sorit
Blame ’Em, Bludgeon ’Em

This year, Ramadan did not start in peace for many in Assam. On July 20th mass violence broke out between the Bodos and Muslims in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bijni, Bongaigaonand Dhubri, in western Assam. The ethnic violence of the Bodos directed against the Muslims (following in the heels of the shameless act of molestation of a young teenage girl by Assamese men in Guwahati) has made international news. Even as I read the stories of the violence documented by well-known and established journalists and reporters from Assam I was shocked; I found it hard to belief that Assam, my homeland, has spiralled into an abyss of senseless sexual and ethnic violence.

In Assam two narratives run parallel; one is the inclusive philosophy of manabata or humanity/humanism and the other is an exclusionary rhetoric of bidexhi or outsiders/strangers. They are contradictory narratives but one does not excise the other. Because they operate in tandem the tentativeness of identity in Assam persists and overwhelms the place and people, at times. The first narrative of ...

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