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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

India’s simmering cauldron of resentment: Modi government’s failure

Amjed Jaaved, a renowned author, discusses the recent clash between the police force of Mizoram and Assam, and how similar incidents have happened in the past. Indian government hastily created new states to appease the people, however, the boundaries of the new states do not satisfy the people completely and are causing increased clashes.

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On July 10, 2021, five Assamese policemen were killed while proceeding towards Varengate (outsider gate). Amid fiery statements of chief ministers of Assam and Mizoram, police officials, and politicians, it appeared that the two states would launch a full-fledged war against one another.

This was not the first incident of its kind. There had been similar clashes in the past (1979, 1985 at Mirapani where 42 persons were burnt alive and 2014 clash).

Hasty creation of states to deal with separatism

When India came into being, many of its states were in grip of insurgencies. To pacify the separatist movements, India hastily bowed to the demand of the creation of new states by reorganizing the existing territories of bigger states. Many northeastern states were carved out of the state of Assam.

Under the Indian constitution, secession is an offense but a new state could be created through the reorganization of the bigger state. Mizoram and Nagaland were created in haste to meet insurgents’ demand for greater self-representation.

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Northeastern frontier Agency was converted into Arunachal Pradesh after the fall of Dacca. Indira Gandhi hoped that China would remain a silent spectator to her initiative as it did while East Pakistan seceded through intervention in East Pakistan.

Linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created mainly owing to agitation by the Marathi and Gujarati-speaking populations of Bombay.

In 1960, the Indian government accepted the Naga tribes’ demand for a separate state. Three districts of the state of Assam were detached from Assam to create Nagaland. It had no railway station or airport. So Dimapur also was truncated from Assam and included in Nagaland. The Dima Kachhari tribe that mostly inhabited Dimapur resented this decision. Anyhow the city is now a throbbing commercial center.

In 1966, the state of Punjab was divided to create the hind-speaking state of Haryana. In 1971 Himachal Pradesh was created. Then in the early 1970s, three new states were created: Jharkhand out of Bihar, Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh, and Uttaranchal out of Utter Pradesh. In 2014, Telangana was created out of Andhra Pradesh.

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The Naga consider that the demarcation of their state is repugnant to demarcation done in 1875 by the British government. Their concept of Nagaland extends up to Nepal.

India’s insurgency in East Pakistan

The Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizenship are abhorred in many states of the North East.

The pitched battle between the Mizo and Assamese policemen exposed India’s “myth of unity in diversity”. Like the British rulers, India is holding together its union of states by use of brutal force and draconian laws. However sub-surface tension against the Indian government persists.

Obviously, people cherish their traditional culture and religions more than monolithic Hindutva. The BJP has set up a northeast Democratic Alliance to forestall disputes between the northeastern states. This body utterly failed to predict or prevent the recent Mizo-Assam clash.

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India understood that if erstwhile East Pakistan supported the insurgencies in the Northeast, it will be impossible for India to keep them within the Indian fold. As such, India aided and abetted insurgency in East Pakistan.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions have been published in the leading dailies and magazines (Global Village Space, Modern Diplomacy, etc.) at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is the author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes, and other Issues in Focus. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.