ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Historical Geography of the Assam Violence

The violence in western Assam where armed groups attacked Bengali-speaking Muslims and Bodos needs to be understood in the context of long-term processes of ecological, economic and social change within the larger framework of colonialism and the modern state. Unless the state and its institutions recognise these interconnected linkages, the confl ict will keep recurring, like it has for the past many decades.

Assam is back in the national lime-light. Violence, which is largely rural in nature, has gripped the western districts of the Brahmaputra Valley since the last week of July. Questions are being asked about what ails A­ssam. Is it the illegal migration from Bangladesh? Is it the ethnic aspiration of the Bodo community? Such questions are framed from the perspective of the Indian state and its political institutions. Answers can be found, we are told, in narratives of large-scale immigration from Bangladesh as well as in the inhe­rent flaws that exist within the Indian constitutional provisions of the Sixth Schedule. But these narratives do little to help us understand the historical specificities that shape the lives and actions of the people and communities living in these areas. Also, these narratives lead to confusion, create distrust amongst communities and increase political pola­rities. A brief exploration highlighting the historical transition of this region will help clear some ambiguity.

Distinct Agrarian Practices

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