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Published in the 16-31 Jan 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Why the seminar on the Nellie massacre was banned?

Why the seminar on the Nellie massacre was bannedThis is with reference to the news item, "Assam has learnt no lessons" (MG, 115 December 2004). It appears that the seminar on the Nellie carnage that was to be held on 10 November 2004 at the OKD Institute of Social Change, Guwahati was proscribed not because it would flare up communal passion but because of fear that it might expose the failure of the then government to prevent the massacre.

It may be recalled that fearing the trouble, three days before the occurrence of the tragic event, on 15 February 1983 the officer-in-charge of the Nogaon police station dispatched the following wireless message to the commandant of the 5th battalion of Assam police that was located within ten kilometers of Nellie:

"Information received that late night about one thousand Assamese of surrounding villages of Nellie with deadly weapons assembled at Nellie by beating of drums. Minority peoples are in panic and apprehending attack in any moment. Submission for immediate action to maintain peace."

But no action was taken on the basis of this wireless message. Consequently over 2000 innocent men, women, children and infants were brutally murdered by the criminals. During the AASU led agitation against the foreign nationals, the law and order situation of the state was very bad. One can have an idea of the situation from the memorandum of the Indian Citizen Right Preservation Committee, Assam submitted to the Prime Minister of India on 31st May 1980. The memorandum stated that the "minority community cannot expect any justice from Assam police which has become a tool in the hands of the chauvinistic and communal elements. They are taking direct orders from AASU and AGSP and are engaged in killing, maiming and torturing minority communities in an attempt to deny basic human and civil rights to the minorities." (Cited in M. Kar, 1997:261)

Following the unprecedented violence in the state Tewary Commission of enquiry was constituted to investigate the disturbances. The Commission submitted its report more than one and half decade back. But it is yet to be made public and the perpetrators of the heinous crimes are still at large. The poor, voiceless and powerless kins of the victims are yet to receive justice.

Md. H. Rahman

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