By- Priyanuj Gohain
Country needs Army to protect its Citizen from Enemy Countries. But India needs Army to impose action against its own Citizen. Is this Democracy of India!
Two days back, the chairman of the United Liberation Front of Assam Arabinda Rajkhowa along with 30 of his ULFA comrades visited the families of the ten children and the three women killed in the brutal Dhemaji blast of 15th August, 2004. He apologized to the families and sought public forgiveness in a public meeting also attended by political advisor Bhimkanta Buragohain and cultural secretary Pranati Deka. He also admitted that ULFA understands that undue crime for being responsible for the death of the children is beyond apology or mercy.
Though the death of innocent children was obviously not intended by ULFA when the cadres planted the bomb to probably wipe of some political figure or security forces, it goes beyond saying that that Rajkhowa was true, – there cannot be any mercy shown for the undue death of children. A rebellion that takes life of children, intentional or unintentional is bound to divert from its cause for the people themselves will show anger against the rebels. However, as we give a deep thought to this issue, we find that what ULFA has done by apologizing to the victim families by visiting each of the families in person is actually commendable. It pains us as we realize that what ULFA, called as terrorists by most of the world, did by seeking apology for their deeds is something what the Indian Army or the Indian State machine has never done to all the pain that people of North East India suffered throughout the decades.
Let us move back in time by some years
The following do not need justice or apology because they were killed by Indian Army
- 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, 18-year old Sinam Chandramani and 8 others were killed on 2nd November, 2002 by Indian Armed forces when they were waiting at a bus stop. This had led Irom Sharmila to begin her decade long fast to repel the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Yet neither the Army nor the Indian State Machine ever apologized for provided justice to the case. Irom Sharmila continues her hunger strike as Indian Army Officers, our savior and defenders wine and dine every day in their camps, probably mocking the attempts of a mere North Eastern woman to fight against the great Indian Army all by herself!
- 6 year old child Debajit Moran was gunned down by Indian Army in 2005 at Dibrugarh. Did any senior official (forget the head of Army) visit the family of the child to seek an apology? Our media and everyone in the society are so keen to speak against the ULFA for being Child killer. Why does no one even remember innocent Debojit Moran? Are deaths by Indian Army allowed to go without a criticism because they are defending us from Pakistan?
- The case of Manoroma Devi of Manipur, who was raped and killed by Army Men was protested severely by the women of Manipur (the nude protest with slogans Indian Army rape us)
- Young Jatin Gohain, 21 years and student of first year from Dhemaji Town worked as a driver to support his own education and poor family. He was picked by the army and several days later, his father found his innocent son’s dead body at Dhemaji police station with his private parts and legs swollen, his skin roughened and face was swathed in blood. Doctors from Civil Hospital denied giving a post mortem report! Do people of Dhemaji remember this?
- Rising musician and Professor of Sibsagar College, Dr Suresh Phukan was picked up by the Indian army and brutally tortured just because he had sung a song called “Udito Suruj” in 1988! Unidentified chemical was poured into his ears, electric shocks were administered to various private parts of his body and Indian soldiers jumped on his body. Finally he had died on March 13, 1991 succumbing to his injuries and mental shock. Today nobody remembers him.
- Young Sarat Sonowal, teacher in Bhadoi Panchali Higher Secondary School at Naharkatia, Dibrugarh was alleged to be picked up by Indian Army on November 30, 1991 and after 9 days of missing and tears to his dependent poor family, his body was asked to be picked up to his family. His entire body was cut into pieces. No post-mortem report or death certificate was issued by the police.
- 80 year old Uma Rajkhowa, Freedom Fighter of India was repeatedly abused and tortured by Army men because he was the father of Arabinda Rajkhowa. He had filed cases against this but to no use.
Indian Army, can you apologize for the rapes that you used as the tool of domination
- 13 Years old Rumi Konwar, then student of class 8 of Changnai village, Sibsagar was raped in front of her father Prafulla Konwar and mother (Both were tied and blind folded) on January 30, 1991. No justice was given.
- 13 Years old Putala Bora, from Digboi was raped by two Army Men of the Punjab Regiment in her house (Case No. 2/91 under S. 376/34 IPC). Can anyone imagine what happened to the family of the victim?
- 16 years old Lakhi Gogoi, 20 year old Niru Gogoi, 15 year old Meena Gogoi, 16 year old Jamuna Gogoi and 14 year old Punya Gogoi from Lakhipathar, Tinsukia were gang raped, stripped and paraded in public. Later it was found that ten more girls from the village were raped by Army men. Two girls became pregnant later on.
- 16 years old Anonla and 17 years old Sunsunla from Arunachal Pradesh, who had come to Assam for medical treatment, were picked up by Indian Army and blindfolded, beaten, kicked with boots, denied food and gave electric shocks for more than two weeks. Anonla later became partially blind.
- 14s Year old Bhanimai Dutta who was gang raped by Indian Army on October 16, 1991, at No. 2 Khowdang village near Naoboisha area in Lakhimpur District had died due to her injuries. But her family never got any justice till date for their daughter. Can her family ever forget the scene of their beloved young daughter’s lying naked with blood spilling?
- 20 years old Raju Barua, at Gohpur in Sonitpur District, who was gang raped by seven army men and killed. Her family stills weeps at injustice.
- 16 Year old Nilima Boro and 14 year old Fouduro Boro who were raped by Army on 18th May, 1992 at Satgiri, Khairahari village under Tangla police station of Darrang district.
- 28 year old housewife Undibala Roy of Lubdungguri, Bijni in Bongaigaon was raped by Army men on 22nd October, 1991(Registered case at Bijni Police station – Case No. 89191- uls 376).
All of the above are just a few of the thousands and thousands of examples and real people that lives all across Assam and north east.
Most section of the Media and people are mocking and laughing at Arabinda Rajkhowa and ULFA for seeking apology for the mistakes for all the hardship that Assamese had faced for their acts. While, we repeat that crimes by ULFA should never be forgiven, we still consider this act as a wonderful gesture and honest attempt at bringing peace and reconciliation to the much troubled region.
The example set by ULFA, whom most of us loved calling as terrorists, is a slap on all our proud faces who pays taxes to the Indian state machine for our safety and security. Can Indian Army even dare to ask forgiveness to the victims of rape and custodial killing of innocents? Can the Indian Government and any authority take responsibility for bringing justice to these victims?
Just as we cannot forget ULFA for its mistakes, the people of North east can never forgive the Indian army and the Indian State machine for its acts against its so-called own citizens in the name of protection. The difference is that ULFA terrorist apologized, admitted their mistakes and promised not to repeat them (Though only Time will prove), while the Indian Army, our saviors do not admit, forget about apologizing for its mistakes.
1] ULFA-r Swadhin Asom by Kanaksen Deka
2] Rastradrohir Dinilipi by late Parag Kumar Das
3] Nixiddha Kolom Aaru Anyanyo by late Parag Kumar Das
4] Journals by MASS
5] Newspapers of the mentioned Times.