“Intolerance” – India should learn from Assam


‘Intolerance’ is on the rise in India. In the last couple of months, many noted litterateur, actors, retired judges and civil society members have expressed there concern on this growing sense of ‘intolerance’. Even, the President of India have on several occasion appealed for tolerance, which we believe proves that there is a growing sense of intolerance in India, as otherwise at least the President would not have spoke on it.

As the country as a whole is engulfed in this growing sense of intolerance, back here in Assam we see that attempts made to create tension between two particular religious community miserably back fired in the State. Let it be the head of a cow in the Naamghar or the application seeking restriction on movement of Durga Puja procession through FA Ahmed Road in Machkhowa. The people of Assam, I believe has succeeded in sending a clear message to the intolerants in mainland India that, we the people of Assam won’t fall prey to rhyming words like from Babri to Dadri. We are from the land of Sankar-Azaan(The Great Srimanta Sankardev and Azaan Fakir).

India should learn about tolerance from Assam. At least in this regard, we have something to teach the country. Divisive forces are on work in Assam, I won’t downplay their existence, but in front of the unity of the 3 crore Assamese population, these forces are powerless.

It is the unity of the people of Assam, which have from time to time thwarted every attempt of divisive forces to spread communal tension. From Nelie to the recent BTAD ethnic clash, if we have a ground zero look, we will find that most of the so called ‘communal clashes’ that took place in Assam had no public involvement in it. If some were sponsored by divisive forces from outside Assam, some were government sponsored terrorism to divert attention of the masses. But, in no such case you will find public involvement. This is what makes our people different.

At a time when entire India was burning following demolition of the Babri Masjid, back here in Assam, members of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA) led by the then district commandant of Nagaon district unit of the outfit, Pabitra Zamidar along with Lambu Bora carried out patrolling in the district as it was one of the most volatile district at that time. So, where even the insurgents are concerned and play a key role in maintaining communal harmony, you can imagine the role the public play.

The history of tolerance is not new to Assam. Even when the Mughals invaded Assam in 1671, in the Battle of Saraighat, it was the people of Assam who fought against the Mughals led by Hindu Commander Ram Singh. There were no muslims, no Ahoms, no Sutia, no Mising, no Kachari – it was Asomiya/Assamese.

In Assam, we are Asomiya/Assamese first and then we are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh etc.

Now as the growing sense intolerance is perhaps giving sleepless nights to many in places like UP, Bihar or even Mumbai, I’m here enjoying an ethnic beef cuisine cooked in the house of a Naga from Nagaland and being served in the house of a Muslim.

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“Intolerance” – India should learn from Assam

By: Priyankan Goswami Read time: 9 min