Haim posted Aug 18, 2012 5:29 PM: <SNIP> > http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/world/asia/panic-rad > iates-from-indian-state-of-assam.html?_r=1&hp > August 17, 2012 > > > Panic Seizes India as a Region?s Strife Radiates > > By JIM YARDLEY > <The rest of Haim's post, quoting the Yardley article, follows for reference below my comments, for ready reference>
Yes, it has indeed been a harrowing 10-15 days or so for a vast number of people from NE India living in various other regions India.
Thousands have fled from various locations in India back to the north-east from whence they hailed, even from Bangalore (and surrounding regions), earlier more or less immune to such 'ethnic strife'.
Certainly a gross failure in governance. It also certainly will shake the faith of many of us in the 'meaning of India' as we've had it all along.
Certainly we need to learn to handle much better how we live with each other in a hugely diverse country as India. We shall have to.
Because the 'mono-culturalism' that Haim is apparently recommending (or even yearning for) can never be again - in India. Or, in the USA (or, for that matter, practically anywhere else in the world). That part of human history is over - forever.
We had better learn to live peaceably with other cultures - or we just do not have a world any more.
(Meanwhile, we do see here that most leaders of most communities are indeed trying to bring peace and build bridges between the communities.
I for one do sincerely believe that we will succeed.
But yes, it is a terrible time that we are now suffering.
GSC > > BRAJAKHAL, India ? Like a fever, fear has spread > across India this week, from big cities like > Bangalore to smaller places like Mysore, a contagion > fueling a message: Run. Head home. Flee. And that is > what thousands of migrants from the country?s distant > northeastern states are doing, jamming into train > stations in an exodus challenging the Indian ideals > of tolerance and diversity. > > What began as an isolated communal conflict here in > the remote state of Assam, a vicious if obscure fight > over land and power between Muslims and the > indigenous Bodo tribe, has unexpectedly set off > widespread panic among northeastern migrants who had > moved to more prosperous cities for a piece of > India?s rising affluence. > > A swirl of unfounded rumors, spread by text messages > and social media, had warned of attacks by Muslims > against northeastern migrants, prompting the panic > and the exodus. Indian leaders, deeply alarmed, have > pleaded for calm, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh > appeared in Parliament on Friday to denounce the > rumor mongering and offer reassurance to northeastern > migrants. > > ?What is at stake is the unity and integrity of our > country,? Mr. Singh said. ?What is at stake is > communal harmony.? > > The hysteria in several of the country?s most > advanced urban centers has underscored the deep roots > of ethnic tensions in India, where communal conflict > is usually simplified as Hindu versus Muslim, yet is > often far more complex. For decades, Indian leaders > have mostly managed to isolate and triangulate > regional ethnic conflicts, if not always resolve > them, but the public panic this week is a testament > to how the old strategies may be less effective in an > information age. > > Last week, the central government started moving to > stabilize Assam, where at least 78 people have been > killed and more than 300,000 have fled their homes > for refugee camps. Then Muslims staged a large, angry > protest in Mumbai, the country?s financial capital, > on the western coast. A wave of fear began sweeping > through the migrant communities after several people > from the northeast were beaten up in Pune, a city not > far from Mumbai. > > By Wednesday and Thursday, the exodus had begun. So > many people were pouring into train stations in > Bangalore and Chennai that the Railways Ministry > later added special services to certain northeastern > cities. By Friday, even as some of the fears eased in > the biggest cities, people were leaving smaller > cities, including Mysore and Mangalore. > > To many northeastern migrants, the impulse to rush > home ? despite the trouble in Assam ? is a reminder > of how alienated many feel from mainstream India. The > northeast, tethered to the rest of the country by a > narrow finger of land, has always been neglected. > Populated by a complex mosaic of ethnic groups, the > seven states of the northeast have also been plagued > by insurgencies and rivalries as different groups > compete for power. > > Here in Assam, the underlying frictions are over the > control of land, immigration pressures and the fight > for political power. The savagery and starkness of > the violence have been startling. Of the 78 people > killed, some were butchered. More than 14,000 homes > have been burned. That 300,000 people are in refugee > camps is remarkable; had so many people fled across > sub-Saharan Africa to escape ethnic persecution, a > humanitarian crisis almost certainly would have been > declared. > > ?If we go back and they attack us again, who will > save us?? asked Subla Mushary, 35, who is now living > with her two teenage daughters at a camp for Bodos. > ?I have visited my home. There is nothing left.? > > Assam, which has about 31 million people, has a long > history of ethnic strife. The current violence is > focused on the westernmost region of the state, which > is claimed by the Bodos as their homeland. For years, > Bodo insurgent groups fought for political autonomy, > with some seeking statehood and others seeking an > independent Bodo nation. > > In 2003, India?s central government, then led by the > Bharatiya Janata Party, brokered a deal in which Bodo > insurgents agreed to cease their rebellions in > exchange for the creation of a special autonomous > region, now known as the Bodoland Territorial > Autonomous Districts. It was a formula long used by > Indian leaders to subdue regional rebellions: > persuade rebels to trade the power of the gun for the > power of the ballot box. > > Now the Bodos dominate the government overseeing the > autonomous districts, even though they are not a > majority, accounting for about 29 percent of a > population otherwise splintered among Muslims, other > indigenous tribal groups, Hindus and other native > Assamese. Competition over landownership is a source > of rivalry and resentment: the land rights of Muslims > are tightly restricted inside the special districts, > even though they constitute the region?s > second-largest group, after the Bodos. > > ?This whole fight is about land and capturing power,? > said Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, a member of Parliament > and a Muslim leader in a neighboring district. ?It is > not a religious fight.? > > These resentments exploded in July and early August, > after an escalating cycle of attacks between Muslims > and Bodos. Soon entire villages were being looted and > burned. The authorities have made few arrests, and > each side has blamed the other. The Bodos say illegal > Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh are streaming into > the autonomous districts and taking over vacant land; > Muslims say such claims are a smokescreen intended to > disguise a Bodo campaign to drive out rightful Muslim > residents in a campaign similar to so-called ethnic > cleansing. > > During the worst violence, the state government in > Assam seemed paralyzed. One issue is that many former > Bodo rebels never turned over their automatic > weapons; some Muslims driven from their homes say > Bodos scared them off by firing AK-47s into the air. > > To visit some of the affected villages is to witness > the eerie silence of lives brutally interrupted. In > Brajakhal, the entire Muslim section was burned and > looted, while the homes of non-Muslims were left > untouched. In the nearby village of Chengdala, each > side apparently attacked the other ? both the Bodo > and Muslim homes are destroyed, with a handful of > others left standing. > > Sumitra Nazary, a Bodo woman, said her elderly father > was bludgeoned to death with an ax. > > ?He was paralyzed,? she said. ?He couldn?t run away.? > > > It is uncertain when the people in the refugee camps > will be able to return to their villages. > Paramilitary units and Assam police officers have > erected temporary guard posts outside many of the > destroyed or looted villages, promising security. > > Assam?s chief minister ordered refugees to begin > returning to their homes this week, even as new > violence was reported in some areas. > > At the camps, life is increasingly miserable. This > week, two members of the National Commission for > Minorities visited the region and documented problems > with sanitation, malnutrition and living conditions > at different camps, particularly those inhabited by > Muslims. One camp had 10 makeshift toilets for 4,300 > people. At another camp, they reported, more than > 6,500 people were crammed into a converted high > school, including 30 pregnant women. > > The scene was little different at a Muslim refugee > camp created at the Srirampur R.M.E. School. More > than 5,200 people were living on the grounds, crowded > under the shade of trees to hide from the broiling > midday sun. > > Goi Mohammad Sheikh, 39, brought his wife and five > children to the camp, but was returning to their > village at night to protect their home. It had been > looted but not burned, he said, and he and a group of > other men were standing guard. > > ?We want to protect our houses,? he said. ?In some > villages, it will not be possible to go back. It is > too dangerous. But we will not leave our village. If > they kill us, let them kill us. How do we leave our > motherland??