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Nellie, 1983 book review: Most Horrendous Genocide in Assam by Diganta Sharma

Guwahati,Shazida Khatun,Main Uddin,Waliullah Ahmed Laskar: Nellie, 1983 is an Assamese book written by Diganta Sharma based on the Nellie massacre that took place during the Assam Movement in 1983. The book is published by Eklabya Prakashan, Jorhat, Assam.

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Neelie, 1983: Asom Andolonor BorborotomGonohatyar Postmortem Report
(Neelie, 1983: A Postmortem Report into the most barbaric Massacre of Assam Movement)
Author: Diganta Sharma
Publisher: Eklabya Prakashan
Akhra Ghar, Molouali, Jorhat-785001,
Published on 30 October 2007
Price: Rs. 55.00,
Pages: 94
Language: Assamese.

‘Rabia Begum was feeding breast to her 17-month daughter sitting in a stool in the veranda of her roadside house. Her other children were playing in the small courtyard. Her husband Chandeh Ali was busy with some work in the back side of the house. They did not even guess what was to come to them after a few minutes. Suddenly the playing children rushed towards their mother in a panic and grasped her. Already there were hue and cry around their house. Hearing desperate cries of his children when Chandeh Ali just entered the courtyard he saw a group of people around with swords, daggers, knives, tridents and petrol. Attackers got divided into three groups. One group chased running Chandeh Ali. Another group went to set fire on the house. And the other group started striking their weapons on children in the in mother’s lap. In minutes they were transformed into a heap of human limbs. The house was rendered into an ash-heap. And Chandeh Ali? A trident struck him from behind.This is not a scene of a horror movie. These are the words from a chapter in the history of the independent secular socialist democratic republic of India which was written in some unknown villages in Nellie in the then district of Nogaon in Assam on Friday, 18 February, 1983, by workers of All Assam Students Union and All Assam Gono Sangram Parishad, the chauvinist groups of Assamese people, with the blood of more than 3000 Bengali speaking Muslims.

Diganta Sharma depicted this and many other horrific scenes in his ‘Nellie, 1983: A Postmortem Report into the Most Barbaric Massacre of Assam Movement’, the book under review”.“Read. And be afraid”. I read it and got afraid. Speaking frankly, I would not sleep in three consecutive nights after going through the book. The scenes haunt me like myoewn ghost. I am afraid, it will keep haunt me till I breath my last. I am terrified.Shaken to the core. I got somewhat disenchanted about the greatest animal. About human civilization. Indian civilization. When we show our such face as shown inNellie and if we call ourselves beasts, it will be an insult to the beasts. Civilization

gets sometimes wilder than the wildest. This is one of the situation where human beings are at their worst. It reminds one of Auschwitz. Birkenau. And such other hellsin the earth. Nellie 1983 is one of the most horrendous genocide in the earth.This book which can strike vigorously to the core of your concept of humanity was are sult of painstaking investigation and an example of meticulous objectivity and bold journalism. The author Diganta Sharma, a young journalist with Guwahati based Assamese weekly Sadin.

killed many a myths surrounding the massacre.He stripped off those who have kept exerting all of their energies to prove that thecarnage was a handiwork of tribal groups such as Tiwa and Lalung and the Assamesehad nothing to do with it. It was a severe slap on the faces of those who have beentrying to get political mileage over each other making Assam a killing ground. Thegovernment claimed AASU and its allies are responsible for the blood bath. Thepresident of AASU Nurul Hussain, as he was then, declared soon after the massacrethat the violence was created by government agent.” Mr. Hiteshwar Saikia, then chief minister of Assam claimed that workers of AASU and Gono Sangaram Parishadwere directly involved in violence occurred in the state. Sharma reproduced a newsitem published in 17 April 1983 issue of Janakranti, which reads ‘detailed orders weregiven in papers bearing names of some regional branches of the students union toattack different minority inhabited areas, the Chief Minister stated in a press meet inlast Sunday.’On the other hand, Sharma has shown how police machinery was involved infacilitating the killers to carry out the program. He reproduced a message sent byJahiruddin Ahmed, the officer-in charge of Nogaon Police Station to the Commandant of 5th Assam Police Battalion in Morigaon, Officer-in charge of Jagi Road PoliceStation and Sub-Divisional Police Officer on 15 February, 1983 the contents of which are:

The police did nothing towards maintaining peace. Rather “the police acted in favourof facilitating the carnage and enjoyed it”, Sharma adds. He quoted a few lines fromthe National Police Commission’s Sixth Report Dealing With Recent CommunalRiots and Role of the Police which reads “…….The National Police Commission hasfound that there is a tendency among the police officers to shun responsibility fordealing with communal situations.“They either avoid to go to the troubled spot or when they happen to be presentthere, they try not to resort to the use of force when the situation so demands or betterstill slip away from the scene leaving the force leaderless…”There is also a chapter in the book which investigates exclusively into the governmentcreated myth that no eye witness could identify the attackers. The book unearths theexistence of a charge sheet which charges 13 attackers under sections 147, 146, 326,379, 436, 302 and 307 of the Indian Panel Code. The charge sheet was prepared onthe basis of an FIR bearing Jagi Road Police Station Case No. 86/83 filed by one Nur

Jamal Bhuiyan. Sharma Claims “Bhuiyan could identify the faces of 13 people wholive in the vicinity of his village. He had seen them either in the market or in the field.These 13 people were among those who burnt down Bhuiyan’s house and killed 12members of his family.”A total of 688 cases were filed in Jagi Road Police Station in connection with the Nellie massacre from which 318 cases were closed after a final report stating thatthere was no evidence against the accused and charge sheet were filed in remaining310 cases. However, the fate of the cases in which charge sheets were filed is notbetter. All cases were dropped when the Asom Gana Parishad, the political wing of the AASU came to power swimming over the flood of the blood of more than 3000people of 14 villages in Neelie including
Alichinga, Kholapothar, Bosundhari, Dugduba Bil, Borjula, Butoni Indurmari, Mati Parvat, Muladhari, Shielbheta, Borburi
etc., other hundreds in other places of the state and 500 of its own workers.Thus in the book of Diganta Sarma the people who played gory games with the lives and sentiments of the people by promoting a myth of Assamese nationalism and transforming it into a blood thirsty chauvinism by presenting a bogey of foreigners assaulting on the culture, identity and livelihood of Assamese got unmarked and naked.This so called Assamese nationalist movement was in its peak in the last part of seventies when Member of Parliament from Mongaldoi constituency Hiralal Patowari died. The election commission started the renewal of electoral roll in order to hold fresh election in the constituency. The exercise went on to the month of May, 1979when allegation was hurled that many names of the doubtful citizens were also being included in the electoral roll. After examination of the specific allegations the Election Commission found some of them are to be true. AASU started to propagate that Mangaldoi proved that millions of Bangladeshis had been included in the electoral rolls of all the constituencies of Assam. They started a movement demand ingexpulsion of the so-called Bangladeshi people which in reality targeted those who speak Bengali and practise Islam. On 27 August in 1979 they formed an outfit named All Assam Gono Sangram Parishad in order to expel those whom they think are Bangladeshis.The Election Commission declared the general election to be held in two phases in Assam on 14 and 17 February, 1983. This decision was challenged in the Supreme Court of India by a petition which was dismissed on 1 February, 1983. ASSU and its allies called for boycott of the election. They threatened the people who would cast their votes with dire consequences and prepared detailed maps of the areas where people belonging to religious and linguistic minority communities live. On the other hand, workers of the Congress (I) conducted a campaign in minority areas saying thatif they did not cast their votes they would be proved foreigners and would be expelled.In these circumstances “the nationalist groups got information that on 14 February many so called Bangladeshi people had cast votes in Nogaon (now Morigaon) district. Instantly a plan of attack was made in the villages where Assamese people live surrounding Neelie by the initiative of agitating peoples. Strategies were formed as to how, when and where attacks would be made on the “illegal Bangladeshis”. The date was fixed

on 18 February. Agenda was genocide to save the existence of mother Assam. Placeof carrying out the plan was Nellie”.The result was genocide of the worst kind in the history where more than 3000 people died and 14 villages were burnt and smashed into smithereens in a mere 6/7 hoursspan of time. After the massacre the victims who survived were so traumatized thatthey could not think of getting justice, rehabilitation and compensation. No ex-gratia was paid to any body in connection with the massacre. All cases of 688 were dropped.A commission of inquiry was formed known as TD Tiwari commission to enquire in to the massacre, the report of which was never made public.The victims of Neelie are getting awake and thinking to seek justice. They ask now“why the nationalists could not prove us Bangladeshi within the period of 25 years since the massacre which was carried out to free Assam from foreigners. Even if they can now prove it we will leave this country on our own”.Diganta Sharma was able tomake the genocide to haunt its perpetrators once again.Victims and some other groups are contemplating to go to the Supreme Court and use the book as a piece of evidence. Dr.Debabrata Sharma, on behalf of Ekalabya, the publisher of the book in the introduction compared the Assamese chauvinist mind-set with that of Lady Macbeth when she says“A little water clears us of this deed” before the publication of the book. Now, after the publication they wonder “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten these little hands” like Lady Macbeth..‘Nellie, 1983’ cries for actions to wash the hands. It needs justice. Nothing short of justice would do. Read it. Be ashamed. Be afraid. It was one of our great shames which came first of many such. Delhi, 1984. Mumbai, Gujarat. What is in stock for the next days who knows? So read it. Be haunted. And take actions. Take actions to get justice for the victims.

Police filed 688 criminal, of which 378 cases were closed due to “lack of evidence” and 310 cases were charge sheeted, and all these cases were dropped by Government as a part of Assam Accord and as a result not a single person got punishment for killing 10,000(non official) innocent people.