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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

While Pioneer harps on a “Muslim state” in NE

New 'Israel' planned in NE

By Our Special Correspondent

The Milli Gazette Online

The lurking tendency nurtured by the BJP to see Muslim hands behind most of the threats that the North East faces was reflected in the theory being floated immediately after the twin bomb blasts last year on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi in Dimapur, the commercial capital of Nagaland. The blasts in Dimapur, one in a Muslim-concentrated area of the city, were followed by strings of blasts in Assam for which non-Muslim outfits like ULFA and NDFB later claimed responsibility. The Dimapur blasts occurred in the context of the uncertainties regarding the talks between the NSCN (I-M), as one entity, and India as the other side. But the immediate explanation of the blasts was dictated by the imaginary Muslim hand so much so that some Muslims from Dimapur were arrested including the imam of a masjid. A convenient e-mail claiming the responsibility of the blasts was "received" by a Guwahati-based daily sent by one "Salim Khan". Immediately, the hand of Nagaland-based outfits was ruled out. The NSCN (I-M), however, promised to identify the elements behind the blasts within one month.

Rabbis from Israel motivate the neo-Jews of NE (left); 
converts wave Israeli flags flaunting a new identity

Now, after months since the blasts, the inquiry commission instituted by the Nagaland government to identify the terrorists failed to not only identify but even to establish the motive behind the blasts. The NSCN (IM), with whom the government-instituted commission had coordinated, has also not come up with its version about the identity of the group(s) or individual(s) responsible for the ghastly acts. As a result, the Muslim-connection thesis evaporated as quickly as it came. But the lurking shadow of Muslim involvement continues to linger because the image has been skillfully crafted and forcefully planted in gullible minds.

Many sensitive observers of the NE developments are surprised at the demonization of Muslims in a region where militant groups, if we go by the religious affiliation, are predominantly non-Muslim. But the design, as reflected every now and then, appears to be an attempt to paint, at a sweep, the nine-million strong Muslims of the region as "aliens" in their own centuries-old homeland. That this attempt has met a degree of success can be gauged from the fact that the Nellie massacre was readily sought to be forgotten, including by Muslims themselves. 

While this is happening another potentially dangerous international angle has been added to the murky situation in the North-East. This new angle has to be closely understood and appropriated in order to maintain the integrity of the country. The long-speculated view expressed by many observers that the United States seeks a foothold in the region seems to be vindicated when the US rushed, uninvited, to "help" Assam government soon after the Nagaland-Assam blasts. In its urgency, the US directly approached Assam chief minister bypassing New Delhi. And that undiplomatic move generated strong opposition from many political quarters in India. 

The North-East, surrounded by many foreign countries including China and Bangladesh, appears, in a degree, to fit in a certain geopolitical strategy of Uncle Sam. The presence of religion-driven Christian militant groups seems to have created an atmosphere where an alliance of convenience may be forged between the interested parties. With a Church-backed "pre-empting" President at the helm in the US, the process of either making "revelational" biddings in the region or getting directly involved on some pretext seems to be on the cards. Many people suspect a complicit understanding between Christian missionaries (majority of them are from the US, and most of them are not innocent propagators of Christianity but linked to the worldview of Bush as shown by Vijay Prasad ("Eastward, evangelical soldiers!" Frontline, 12-25 February 2005) and the on-going drive to identify many tribes in Mizoram and Manipur as "Jews" (which has been earlier reported in the MG). This has far-reaching consequences.

Now the Aizawl-based Chhinlung Israel Peoples' Convention, with a 0.25 million strength complete with a flag, is hoping to establish a "New Jerusalem" in the North-East. Streams of Jewish rabbis are coming to Mizoram and Manipur to refine the "Jews" to be ultimately fit to be an "integrated" member of the World Jewry. The Convention's chairman, conforming to the present global trend of "fulfilling" Biblical prophecies, says, "The Torah (Old Testament) states that there shall be one holy land in the west and one in the east" (The Week, 12 Sep. 2004) . And this "New Jerusalem" has come up in the North East at the expense of the other peoples of the region.

Thus, the Muslims of the region are caught in the spiral process of ethnic conflict on the one hand and homeland movements based on religious texts supported by mythological oral traditions and constructed ethnic characteristics on the other. Perhaps it is to camouflage these designs that a section of the Indian media, like Delhi's the Pioneer, keeps manufacturing fiction of an Islamic state in the North East.

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