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Remembering Nellie
By Muhammad Hasibor Rahman

On 18 February 1983 over 1800 Indian Muslims were brutally murdered in the Nagaon district of Assam. Even infants and children were not spared. This massacre took place when the anti-foreigners agitation led by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad was at its peak. Mr Prafulla Kumar Mohanta, the present chief minister of Assam, was then the AASU president.

Following the unprecedented murders and mayhem in the state, one-member TD Tewary commission was set up to investigate these violent incidents including the Nellie massacre by the then chief minister of Assam, Mr Hiteswar Saikia. The commission submitted its 600-page report in May 1984. But the enquiry report has been kept secret till today. It has been lying buried in the heaps of government files for the last 18 years. But the worst memories of Nellie massacre are still haunting the minority community of Assam.

All that the kins of the Nellie victims received was a meagre Rs 5000! But the murderers were amply rewarded. Winning the Assam Assembly election in 1985, the Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) formed government headed by Mr. Prafulla Kumar Mohanta. The so-called fighters of the anti-foreigners movement, many of whom were responsible for murdering hundreds and destroying properties worth crores of rupees, were paid many times more than what was given to the relatives of the Nellie victims as ‘compensation’ by the Mohanta government.

While the survivors of the Nellie carnage have been waiting for justice all these years, the perpetrators of the heinous crime are still at large. The AGP government has, so far, not shown any inclination to make the Tewary commission report public and to punish the culprits.

On the other hand, AASU has been seeking rehabilitation of the families of its members who were killed during the Assam agitation and to increase their ex-gratia sums from the existing Rs. 30 thousand to 5 lakh (0.5 m). But the nation has forgotten the unfortunate Nellie victims and their relatives. There has been no organization to fight for their cause in their own country. Are they not entitled to justice under the law of the land?

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