Autonomy versus Sovereignty – Assam is not alone

By- Dilip Dutta

As the colonization curtains were falling across the globe some geographical regions remained under the clutches of the colonizers and also neo-colonizers (usually of the same skin color  continued to maintain their hold on many regions. The United Nations Charter fortunately became the savior for these regions and many have managed to be free and became independent sovereign countries owned by the rightful inhabitants of the respective lands.

Towards the end of the twentieth century one word became widely used was Globalization which became the often uttered mantra in Assam too. This all-consuming magic word gave some political pundits carte blanche ideation even to say that the Nation State with geographical boundaries have no real meaning any more. With the advent of the globalization also known as The American Century the world powers and the United Nations appeared to have made up their mind not to encourage any new State rising up like the Phoenix. India breathed a sigh of relief as activists of Assam and her neighbours knocking doors at the international arena are not going to get a hearing. However there is a thing called polity. Bishops deciding to voice concerns for the remaining Seven Hundred Thousand East Timorians, Bill Clinton did the most decent thing during his presidency and extended the hand of friendship and East Timor managed squeeze out of the clutches of Indonesia, an Islamic Republic. On 20 May 2002 East Timor became an Independent country.

As the Yugoslav federation disintegrated and ethnic cleansing by Serbia became too embarrassing, history came to the rescue and a most land locked piece of land with less than 2 million people became a viable independent country and Kosovo was reborn.

Islam re-inventing itself and purity filters activated, live & let live is thrown out of the window and winners take all attitude laid bare, the world had to save the Christians in the Southern Sudan being Dhimmis under the Islamic dispensation and South Sudan had to be given rights to secede and it has become the latest addition to the United Nation’s list of countries.

Why no such progress with Assam’s fate? It seems there no one taker in propelling Assam’s just cause forward in the international real politic. That’s not entirely true. A Chechnya Islamic website at one time put out calls through an apparently Assamese Muslim Jihadist joining Chechnya rebels for Assam to take help from the Islamist to gain her Independence and become an Islamic country run by Sharia.

I have no doubt that call must have fallen on deaf ears for very sound reasons. Every Assamese knows that Assam is not born or married to any religion. Zealots of any religion crouching in the shadows get this loud and clear, Hands off Assam. I know such stand is not helpful to those who are active in diplomatic pursuit. However, there are certain things which must not have ifs and buts. I can only hope that my sentiment is that of entire Assam and all rational people will take stand by my view on this critical issue.

With multiple hurdles in home and abroad, Assam indeed has a Himalayan task in pursuing the sovereignty restoration road map. The ULFA releasing very positive sounding statements lately seem not have impressed the opponents of the cause the organisation is fighting for. Many editorials and media commentators and bloggers are saying in unison, Sovereignty of Assam is ULFA’s impossible to achieve dream.

As the saying goes, Charity begins at home, the home ground need to be very solid if the Sovereignty is to be achieved. Hence here is my two cents of my supportive arguments.

Look across the globe; Nationalism on the rise again. Scotland readying for the clean break referendum in less than two years.

The Basque region of Spain, which has similes with our own situation, lately giving more importance on a political dialogue instead of pressurizing the Castilian Spaniards with ETA’s military tactics in liberating themselves. Lately the fiercely independent Basque people have been emboldened by the Catalonian rising up and seeking secession from Spain too. Moreover, Corsica, a small island inside French Republic has also want to go their own way to preserve their way of life.

These regions are no way being militarized like Assam under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and sanitization killing of Assamese youths like vermin and our fair sex being raped as a weapon of war. Scotland is a country on its own right united with England and above three regions in Europe is administered autonomously.

Those in Assam who do not see the necessity of Assam being an independent nation again, and many voicing for autonomy instead should ask themselves, why then these first world regions reaping the benefit of globalization and administered autonomously are craving for their respective Statehood and basking on the Nationalism fervor Why are they unhappy losing their ancestral geographical boundaries? The answer you get hopefully will make it abundantly clear why so called Autonomy for Assam is nonsensical.

The bottom line here is that western democracies have not been a total solution to give up ones pride and flagging it up begets prejudice.

If the anti-Sovereignty Assam brigade do not see prejudice from racist India and sees love and affection I would question their sanity.

To those who can see my point or already are on board with ULFA’s onward march, we need to home in how to bell the cat?

The ULFA has been talking about a referendum on the issues of the Sovereignty for over three decades. ULFA’s plea has not impressed the United Nations. In my humble opinion ULFA’s arguments may not be have been in accordance with the UN language. We must understand that the UN’s first duty is the interest of member Nation India upon receipt of grievances against her. Therefore, the UN to take note of the rights of Assam and her people we need to fulfill yardsticks the UN measures against, so that, the world body cannot ignore Assam’s rights as per international instruments. As the ULFA chairman recently exemplified that we are no longer projecting ourselves as one people, then, how can Assam ask the UN to look into us on the indigenous people perspective?

Next area of regaining our Sovereignty is appealing to the UN de-colonization committee. Although Manipur and Tripura has some leeway, Gopinath Bordoloi putting his trust in Indian Congress leadership and his Resolution (which turned out to be not worth the paper it was written on) made the fatal mistake of NOT approaching the League of Nations for arbitration as Britain restoring the Sovereignty of Burma despite administered by the Bengal Presidency and applying the culpable Two Nation solution on Assam; is an argument I feel lost its teeth. However, some international legal brain, well versed in the de-colonization process might be able to tease out valid legal arguments which is a possibility hoping against hope.

BUT, one’s birth rights are never lost. If we can in one voice as one people demand our birth rights on our ancestral land, UN must uphold it. On this argument Palestine recently has been granted a observer membership of the UN general council. If Palestine now gets the backing of the UN Security Council we can see creation of the State of Palestine in the line of Imperial Britain offer in 1937.

In my considerate opinion, it is neither a dream that won’t come true or sheer stupidity to pursue restoration of the lost Sovereignty. I see it as a worthy cause. Without Sovereignty the Assamese identity cannot survive. People need to take a united stand and work out strategies intelligently to present our birth rights in the language of the UN so that that the security council could be made cognizant of our plight and be persuaded to take our issue to resolution.

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