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EPW: A Habit of Sorts

Victory for Identity Politics, Not Hindutva in Assam

During the recently concluded Assam assembly elections, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's role was exaggerated to strengthen the impression that the Assamese have finally succumbed to the ideology of Hindu nationalism. This is not borne out either by the background of most of the successful Bharatiya Janata Party candidates or the overall voting pattern in the state.

Assam-Nagaland Border Violence

The violence in August on the border of the Naga Hills that left 17 people dead, scores injured and over 200 houses burnt has its roots in the colonial period. But a solution to this long-standing dispute over land lies not in the realm of constitutional borders or assertion of historical claims to "ancestral land", but in mutual give and take.

Bodoland: The Burden of History

Those who are trying to portray the present crisis in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District as a Hindu-Muslim clash are consciously trying to bring about the polarisation along religious lines. At its core, the issue is about control over land. The current tragic situation in the BTAD is the outcome of wrong policies which have been pursued since Independence, all resulting in the marginalisation of the plains tribal communities and the dispossession of their rights to land. What is urgently required at this present juncture is strong steps to prevent further alienation of tribal land and forest reserves coupled with measures to protect the constitutional rights of the other communities in the BTAD area.

A New Edge to People's Protests in Assam

The major protests in Guwahati on 22 June against the Government of Assam's attempts to evict settlers on the hills around the city reflect a much wider and deeper sense of insecurity amongst the masses arising out of land alienation in the region. The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, led by activist Akhil Gogoi, has emerged in the past few years as a major plank of mass protest. The KMSS has added a completely new dimension to the politics of protest in the state, but can the organisation translate the mass support into an alternative political platform?

Assam: Peace Talks or the Fall of the Curtain on ULFA?

There is both hope and uncertainty that the peace talks between the United Liberation Front of Asom and the central and state governments will end the conflict in the state and at the same time address some of the issues thrown up during the course of the three-decade long struggle. The hope lies in the decision of ULFA to come to the table, the uncertainty is that the powerful and armed Paresh Baruah faction continues to stay away.

ULFA: Beginning of the End

In the last three decades the United Liberation Front of Asom has followed a trajectory which has taken it away from its stated goal, alienated it from the masses and pushed it increasingly into the groove of terrorism sans an ideology. It began in April 1979 as an organisation committed to ending "Indian colonial rule" and, unlike other such outfits, succeeded in drawing its cadres from all segments of the population. At one time ULFA symbolised, for many in Assam, a point of resistance to Indian hegemony. But the extortions, killings, bomb blasts, targeting of civilians and of migrant workers from north Indian states, led to erosion of whatever support and sympathy it enjoyed. Today the outfit is on the defensive mode.

Sexual Orientation

We – teachers, researchers and academics from all over India – welcome the Delhi High Court judgment reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to decriminalise consensual sex among adults in private. The judgment held that “Section 377 IPC, insofar as it criminalises consensual sexual acts...

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