02 August, 2021

In North-East India Why The Word 'Bangladeshi' Is Just Plain Evil

The Citizenship Amendment Act has scratched an old wound in a land where the hatred for the 'illegal immigrant' runs deep

Graphics by Saji C.S.
In North-East India Why The Word 'Bangladeshi' Is Just Plain Evil

The past often provides vital context to present turmoil. In the Northeast,  discontent in one part often holds great significance for others; the same story invariably plays out in another, more virulent, form. This February, widespread violence convulsed Arunachal Pradesh after the state government decided to issue permanent resident certificates to six non-Arunachalee communities, most of them from neighbouring Assam. The certificate would have made these people eligible for government jobs and admission to state-run schools and colleges. At least two people were killed in police firing and the residence of the deputy CM was razed; the government backed off, saying it will “not take up the matter” ever again.

The widespread, sometimes violent, protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam has to be read against the backdrop of what people in the Northeast fear most—loss of identity, jobs, resources. The common enemy is the “illegal immigrant”—a loaded word that carries political and social undertones. The...

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