Thursday, November 20, 2003

Taking us for a ride

Biharis are being killed and maimed in Assam. This a reaction to the loot and rapes that targeted Assamese people that went for hours near a Bihar town. That was in reaction to the beating of Bihari students appearing in a Railway Recruitment Board exam in Assam. This is not going to stop here though.

Student organisations, which led the protests for "job for locals", are no longer leading. I happened to be in Bihar two days after the ghastly incident happened. This is an account from an eyewitness Bihari friend, who was beaten by fellow Biharis—

"Students protesting against the illtreatment of Bihari students in Assam were protesting at different places including Bhagalpur, Katihar and Jamalpur. Protesting students in Katihar had already beaten some passengers coming from Assam."

Bhagalpur students had stopped the train for hours. And goons in Ratanpur, near Jamalpur, were ready to take advantage."

(The area — between Sultanganj and Kiul nearly 90 km along the railway line — is such a gone case that train robberies are a daily story. Every second young man is a potential criminal. If he is not committed a crime, it is because he never got the opportunity. The area hasn't seen any development for decades. Roads do not exist. Guns are freely available. There is no order and they don't care about the law.)

They were ready to take advantage of the flaring situations. A train dacoity in daylight with a perfect excuse: protest. They stopped the train. Went on a looting spree. They molested women, tore their clothes, ripped their baggage and took off with whatever they could. They looted everyone including Biharis who have borded the train as the train had entered Bihar some five hours ago. They didn't care about who's from Assam." (At least one rape was confirmed. The government woke up too late but did transfer some senior police officers.)

The genuine students with a cause, whatever that may be, have gone back to their homes regretting what happened."

The reaction in Assam is similar. All Assam Students Union (AASU) began the protests. And now separatist extremists like Ulfa have taken over and AASU doesn't know what to do.

They have a ready cause. Widen the gulf so much that Assam is cut off again. Bihar is the link state, they have to cross if they have to go to the heartland.

Ulfa is provoking the goons in Bihar to retaliate so that they can continue their retaliation. Ulfa, sidelined by the peace-loving people of Assam, has begun sowing of fear again. The harvest would please its counterparts in Bihar too.

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