Bullied, betrayed and quite probably bamboozled, the proud people of Axom (or Axomiyas) took to the streets amid a shower of tear gas and bullets to display the still resolute cultural spirit and dignity that has been, with the greatest of hopes, handed down for generations by our ancestors who have, above all, held in the highest of regards the freedom of the Republic and her future.
I recall instances when my parents used to tell me about the Axom student agitations of the 80s and how young people were brutally slaughtered and how many sacrificed themselves to preserve a way of life free of infiltration by illegal migrants who endanger the very ethos of our existence on a daily basis.
I also distinctly remember shrugging aside those stories, believing that such a horrific series of episodes leading to a similar experience will never occur in my lifetime, especially with the country progressing towards a safer approach to life, with such ample security and technology. And yet, a few years later, I find myself reflecting on the foolish notions of my childhood and praying that the generation after me will be able to identify themselves as Assamese.
The Citizenship amendment act is in every way a festering wound, deliberately inflicted upon an already suffering people by the great harbingers of nationalism and spiritual awakening who for all their intellectual bravado have forgotten what constitutes a nation; Its people.
When a citizen’s culture, individuality and self respect is in distress it is not only the prerogative but the responsibility of the people to express their turmoil and rally others of their ken to march alongside them. That is the very foundation of a democracy. But when echoes of a distressed voice sound with barbaric slanders of anti-nationalism, and a smear campaign designed to question the loyalty of a proud but forgotten people, the balance of the system becomes diseased.
Unlike the now revoked special status granted to the great state of Jammu & Kashmir, The Assam Accord was designed not to grant any special privileges to the people of Axom but to protect the land and its people from the destructive nature of illegal immigrants who instead of sharing our joys and sorrows and marching alongside us to safeguard the foundation of a democracy, sharing the beautiful heritage of cultural and social notions decided to remove us, citizens of India, from our own lands, influence our socio economic and political rights and undermine our identity as Assamese.
This sudden burst of altruism from our politicians is, for the lack of a better word, a septic and contentious vote bank propaganda which has a highly disturbing and destructive influence on the peace the people of Axom have enjoyed for nearly 40 years.
In a despicable show of authority marred with violence, the fundamental rights of the people of Axom has been abused time and again by men who swore an oath of office to safeguard its citizens.
Media outlets who dared to question the legality of the act had their offices vandalised by the very individuals who swore to uphold the law. Young students are forced to demonstrate their anguish amid a plethora of unwarranted arrests and police brutality to secure their future. Cultural entities, intellects, and people who genuinely empathise with their own, their voices were silenced. But I find great solace with what I witnessed was that an Assamese voice is the clarion call of unity which has been heard across the nation and beyond.
Axom has taken the brunt of illegal immigrants even after the accords were signed due to the ignorance and sheer negligence of the people sitting in the capital. Hundreds pour in to the seven sisters every year and leave us people as third-class citizens in our own homes. Every summer of destructive floods all we get is a small article in a national daily and aid fit to rehabilitate a dog shelter.
We do not require the charity of celebrities or the international press, but as citizens of the country we do expect our elected leaders to study the crippling problems, be it natural or induced, that the people of Axom face and act responsibly to ensure that the state which provides one of the highest amounts of agriculture, petroleum and raw materials amongst other essentials do not fall into utter ruin.
With faith we march together and I understand no movement is perfect. There are bumps on every journey and only by forcing through the upheaval of this great and necessary path shall we reach our destination. A state, proudly harbouring a mighty river and home to a mighty people, whatever the crisis, is and shall always be Indian. And no true Indian shall ever tolerate a disloyal government. For the world history as witness, humanity has never been kind to men who play God.
United we stand and only united shall we conquer our rights to express our music, our literature and our history. We shall teach our kids the way of life that our parents have taught us, free of slavery and free of fear of being oppressed by absentee overlords, free to pursue our education and sweat in our fields, free to grind in our kitchens and seek justice in our courts. Free to work and grow and progress on our own terms in our own lands. And we shall never fall.
Bio: Dr Aahlad Mahendra Borah is an Assamese Physician currently serving at Barpeta. He hails from a family deeply imbedded in Axom’s culture, literature and performing Arts.
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