14 May, 2021

A Futile ‘Sacrifice’

"BJP government is mocking the 'sacrifice' of the 855 martyrs by bringing in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which has sparked violent protests across the Northeast."

A Futile ‘Sacrifice’

Renubala Das remembers the balmy June evening of 1982 as if it was only yesterday. Those were the tumultuous days of the anti-foreigners agitation in Assam and her husband, Mahendra Das, had gone out to join a rally organised by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which spearheaded the movement against the “illegal” entry of people from Bangladesh. It was with a shudder that she received news of a bomb blast at the rally site in Guwahati’s Fatasil Ambari market. The moments that passed must have seemed like an eternity before her worst fears were confirmed: Mahendra Das, then 45, and his brother were among the 20 people killed. The hands that unmade her fate were never identified; perhaps it was the then-nascent ULFA.

Renubala was beyond caring at that stage. Her world had come crashing down—she was now alone with their 10-year-old son, Bhagya. Mahendra Das, who was a small-time businessman, is now officially recognised as a “martyr” of the six-year-long Assam agitation, one among 855 who gave their lives for...

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