Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cachar's territorial integrity must be preserved

The assertion of ethnic identities and cultures by innumerable tribal groups and communities across the north east has emerged as one of the major challenges for the central as well as the state governments of the region.

Today, there are dozens of tribal communities in the north eastern states which are fighting for greater autonomy and self rule. The policy makers sitting in Delhi never quite bothered to understand the multi cultural complexities of the region and initially doled out statehood to many tribes such as the Khasis, the Nagas and the Mizos, at the same time denying the same to some others.

Now many more communities are fighting, sometimes violent and sometimes non violent agitations, to get their share of the pie and quite frankly, Delhi does not know what to do. A few years ago, the Bodos were granted the ‘Territorial Council’ status to quell their long standing demand for a separate state. This precedent of granting a ‘state within a state’ status by the government gave another option to the agitating communities. Now, the Karbis also have been granted the same status and the Dimasas are going to get elevated to the same position soon.   

However, the question is, whether such steps are leading to any permanent solutions to these decades old issues? The granting of ‘territorial councils’ under the sixth schedule of the constitution also warrantees the redrawing of districts, which again is bound to create controversies and unrest.

This issue has now become very crucial for the people of Cachar also as the proposed Dimaraji or Dima Hasao Territorial Council may claim some areas of the district where the Dimasas have been staying since ages.

Recently, the Dilip Nunisa faction of the Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) held a convention at Kumacherra in Cachar to discuss the issue of the territorial council.  While there was no open demand for inclusion of parts of Cachar in the council, Nunisa tried to rake up ethnic sentiments by asserting that the Bengalis had been helped greatly by the erstwhile Dimasa kingdom in Khaspur and therefore, they should also respect the sentiments of their Dimasa brethren.

While the Jewel Gorlosa faction of the DHD is content with the creation of a territorial council within the present Dima Hasao district, the Nunisa led group wants the inclusion of Dimasa inhabited areas of Cachar, Nagaon and Nagaland in the same.

The presence of surrendered ULFA leader Arabinda Rajkhowa in the convention has queered the pitch further. Whether, Rajkhowa, a known Bengali baiter, intends to weaken the Bengali dominated Barak Valley by supporting the division of Cachar needs to be observed very closely.

This article does not intend to evoke micro ethnic sentiments by putting across points against this possible division of the district. However, we the people of Barak Valley, must remember that, safeguarding our linguistic and cultural interests has been a constant concern for us ever since independence. We must be conscious to the fact that the dispensation at Dispur will never resist such a division as it will weaken the identity of Barak Valley as a land of the Bengalis. And, therefore, we must resist, any such demand from any quarter irrespective of its origin. 

Despite its Bengali identity, Barak Valley has always prided itself in being a multi cultural area where people of many communities live together peacefully. The three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi are home to many diverse communities apart from the Bengalis such as Manipuris, Bishnupriya Manipuris, Biharis, Marwaris and of course the Dimasas.

All these communities have contributed to the growth of the valley and are integral parts of it. However, if such divisive sentiments are allowed to develop and foster, this valley will also turn into a war zone like many other parts of the north eastern region, with more communities asserting their presence and demanding autonomy. In any case, we are drowned neck deep in problems related to development and now law and order. None of us, irrespective of what language we speak, can afford to encourage such sentiments.

Therefore, we the people of Barak Valley, must understand, that self ambitioned forces are out to attack our unity. The onus is on us to ensure that such tendencies are nipped at the bud and not allowed to grow.


  1. Well, I agree with most of your points . But if we get down to the core issue, the Dimasas wants to bring its erstwhile pre-British kingdom into omne administrative unit giving it its earlier identity. You must be aware that the Dimasa ruled this part of the state for hundreds of years and even made Khaspur(in Cachar districts itself ) its capital towards the end. Your comparison of the Dimasa's demand with that of Karbis or Bodos is incomparable. While the subjects of the Dimasa kingdom, for eg the Jaintia-Khasi and the Nagas have their own statehood, the Dimasas resented that why it once being a ruler of these hundreds of communities are not given its due. Dimasas territory amounts to almost 40-50% of the present state of Assam till 1854 AD. while the remaining that of the Ahoms. The divisive policy of the British and India has weakened the Dimasas so much so that they are of no match of their own subjects , leave alone it's then arch enemy Ahoms. The Bengalese in Barak valley infact seeped through the Western border of the kingdom, as the Dimasa King was specially keen to bring Brahmins into the territory being a Hindu himself. Now who are friends and who are enemies?

  2. @Anonymous: History often throws up many differing perspectives on the same issue, depending on how much one wishes to go back in time and who writes the history. Therefore, in this article we have consciously not focused on the historical perspective.

    Redrawing of boundaries would lead to disagreements and controversies which will surely affect the secular fabric of the entire valley. Therefore, it is in everyone's common interest to refrain from getting into any such tendency.

  3. I am afraid brother, God forbid , your people don't become a History the way Dimasas did and some people give a comment like you did . Juthai !

  4. @Anonymous: Dear Sir, the article was never about you and me, it was about us. Neither the Dimasas, nor any other community residing in the valley would ever become history. May the Almighty bless us all.

    We deeply regret if any content of the article or the comment has hurt you or any one from your community. Concern For Silchar speaks for the rights and legitimate demands of everyone residing in Silchar and Barak Valley as a whole, irrespective of caste, creed, community or religion.


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