By- Priyankan Goswami
Assam takes pride itself as the land of Sati Joymoti, the brave Ahom Princess who laid down her life standing undaunted against inhuman atrocities to save her husband (and thereby her motherland).
For our non-Assamese readers and those neo-Assamese readers whose parents took pride in not teaching them anything of their motherland’s history, – Sati Joymoti was the wife of Ahom Prince Gadapani, who was forced to flee from his land during one of the darkest period of Assam history (1671-1681). It was during the rule of young tyrant Sulikphaa (also called Lora Roja) and under the manipulation of Laluk Sula Barphukan, that as many as twenty seven eligible princes and princesses and two kings were murdered (in order to protect the Tyrant’s future). The whole country of Assam was under utter lawlessness and future of this beautiful land was grim, Gadapani remaining the only hope. Joymoti was captured by the emissaries of Lora Roja and put through inhuman torture, pain and heinous crime to find out the whereabouts of her husband and her two children whom Gadapani had taken along with. Joymoti whose love and responsibility for her husband and motherland had taken over her own sufferings and pain protested in silence and died on 27 March 1680 in Jerenga Pathar, Sibsagar.
Anyway this piece is being written not as a lesson of history. This is to point out the fact that our motherland, Assam who still prides itself of Sati Joymoti has now faced its biggest shame ever. The history of Joymoti is being repeated this time, in the form of crude crime and brutality against woman without a future hope or a Gadapani in hiding.
For a change, Assam has topped in something at All India level. Unfortunately it’s not growth, development, education, sports, science or anything we envy others for. Other things we could have probably topped in (if measured) are number of Guinness Book of record attempts we made in the year; donations accumulated in the name of Chanda for Puja, Bihu and hundreds of other occasions, etc. Yet, most shamefully we are to learn that Assam has topped in something worth a hundred death penalties, – crime against women and violent crimes.
The latest figures of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have revealed that Assam topped the chart in crime against women in 2012 with a percentage of 89.54 which is double the national average of around 41.7 per cent last year! For a comparatively small state with a minimal number of female populations, this number is highly alarming. Even bigger states or some North Indian states which are known for crime against women on rise, are better off than Assam. As per the NCRB report, 13,544 cases of crime against women were registered in the state last year. There were 1716 cases of rape, 3360 cases of kidnappings and 140 cases of dowry deaths in Assam. Another 6407 cases, where women faced cruelty from their spouses or relatives in Assam, were also reported.
If this is not enough, Assam reported the highest rate (54.2 per cent) of violent crimes of the total IPC, compared to 11.5% in the national level. Of 16,874 violent crimes Assam recorded in 2011-12, 5,077 were riots, 2,830 arson, 3,812 kidnapping and abductions, 1,716 rapes, 1,368 murders, and 670 attempts to murder, the report revealed. In numbers, Uttar Pradesh recorded 33,824 violent crimes during the same year; however the incident-to-population ratio was highest in Assam. It is to be mentioned that Sikkim recorded the least number of violent crimes, 58, including 34 rapes and 10 kidnappings.
It is all happening around us, this time far more brutal and inhuman than what Joymoti faced,- because this time it is not a blind power hungry tyrant who is the criminal. This time, we the society are the criminals.
We are the same people who took pride when Amir Khan declared there is no dowry system in Assam (in his show Satyamev Jayate), but would we able to face those 140 families who have lost a daughter during the same year through dowry deaths? If you still do not think there is dowry in Assam, ask what is Maan Dhora and what those demands of furniture to the bride are (Gifts? Really?)?
We are the same society who go crazy after results of 10th standard, chases the free laptops but gives blind eyes when they reach colleges and join student unions. What have the historical student unions given us anyway, except news of burnt effigies, wasting millions of hours and days of study time of students, allowing the lazy Assamese a day of rest and fish curry during Bandhs (and destroying the economy forever)? Most importantly they have created the culture of earning easy money (Do I need to elaborate how).
This hunger for easy money concept is the main reason why Assam has become the happy hunting ground for cheat financial schemes such as the Sharada, Unipay etc. It is this hunger for easy money that most students are lured into student unions (or protesting bodies I should say, who operates under influence), it is this quest easy money that an Industry of Militancy is still flourishing in the state. Most importantly, it is this easy money in turn later that crime rate is at all-time high in the state. Whether is kidnapping, murder or other crimes, the root is mostly money easily sought for.
The society of Assam and our socio-cultural values have reached an all-time low. The Tarun Gogoi led Congress Government or the Indian democratic system, highly incapable of even giving justice to a single crime cannot be expected to perform any miracles. If things have to improve, there has to be action from us, all sections of the society,- by stopping this culture of easy money. This has to start at the grass root levels, right from students to offices, Puja-Bihu-Namghar Chanda (donations) to demands and insults for not-so-costly-wedding-gifts from bride’s family, all of these has to be controlled. The right culture has to be created by us, by you reading this.
Joymoti, when she breathed her last probably had a hope and a dream. Indeed Gadapani, who returned later from his hiding with a wave of patriotism across Assam later threw away the tyrant Lora Roja and went on to become one of the most powerful and able kings of the country. So did Joymoti’s son Rudra Singha. But in current days, we do not see a hope around us. Nor from our tyrants in power not from those hiding in the Jungles. We are left alone and the only option left to us is to fight. Fight against our own demonic culture which we ourselves created.