Since the time I have learned to speak I have learned to identify myself as an Assamese or more precisely ‘Axomiya’. Not a Hindu, not even an Indian; my first identity was always an ‘Axomiya’. With the addition of years to my life, I have gradually learned about Assam, the people of Assam, our culture, our traditions, our language and about our people. Fast forward a few more years, I began to learn about the various problems our community has been facing since time immemorial, the threats, the illegal migrations, the Assam Agitation and now the most recent NRC, CAB and a lot such issues. And the more one learns about things, the journey of growing up as an Assamese becomes more a roller coaster of emotions – a blender of a sense of pride and love for our motherland and everything related to it, and the fear of losing the Assamese identity in our own land. We witness regular discussions and debates regarding the influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and the hoard of problems accompanying them. We know about the 855 martyrs who sacrificed their lives trying to let Assam remain the homeland of the Assamese; we have seen a particular community not resembling the Assamese people in any way increasing in thousands, not only in facts and figures of statistics and data but right before our very eyes. We have seen governments selling off their morals and ethics in exchange of power and money, and doing nothing while our lands in Assam were being encroached; when the population of a particular section increased manifolds. We have seen the daily newspapers brimming with crime reports from a particular community and of late we have seen a particular group of educated youth from that particular community trying to tarnish the image of the Assamese with lies and manipulated verses before the whole world.
Some days ago, I saw a video of famous Assamese poet Nilamoni Phukan shedding tears griefing at the thought of a probable future where Assam will no longer remain home to the Assamese people. The tears in the eyes of the senior poet reflect our incapability to love and toil for the land whose air we have breathed through generations. I have read the book “Our moon has blood clots” by Rahul Pandita based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homes and I completely understand when someone shivers at the thought of Assam turning into a second Kashmir. And this fear that arises in the minds of people is not for no reason. Although some so-called intellectuals and their likes have tried numerous baseless arguments that there are no illegal migrants in Assam, inspite of clear facts and figures which distinctly shows the abnormal population rise over the decades; every true indigenous Assamese without even looking at these figures can tell from their hearts that Assam is neck-deep in the mess created by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Apart from multiplying like rabbits, there is a huge rise in the crime rate which can directly be related to immigration and population growth. An article which caught my eye not many days ago was one by Dr. Manoj Kumar Saikia who wrote about the abrupt rise of kidney and cancer patients in Assam, especially in Upper Assam. He cited the main reason behind this is the new food habits of our people eating fruits and vegetables laden with pesticides and fertilizers. These vegetables are cultivated not by the native Assamese but a particular group of people who uses cheap and harmful chemicals imported from Bangladesh. These are the same people whose forefathers or fathers have migrated from our neighboring country and who have settled here and taken up farming as a main means of livelihood. And the long term effect of these food-crops can be seen as the exponential rise in kidney disease and cancer among our people who are too lazy to grow their own crops.
Now the question arises, are we going to do nothing? Are we going to sit until another Arnomai Bora is raped and killed in broad daylight or another artist troupe’s female dancers are forced to strip on stage? Until the whole Assamese population is crippled? Actually, the solution is not that easy. Although everyone will want so, can we really chase these people out of Assam? This leads to another big question was the Axom Andolan even fruitful? Now, much has been said about uplifting this community and improving their social and living conditions, and that is a more practical solution it seems. Although awareness among these people regarding almost every sphere of living is an absolute must, nothing much has been actually done in that area. On one hand where people like Illias Ali is fighting to bring population control awareness among them, on the other hand there are some educated people of their community who are hell bent on instigating the poor and helpless of their community against the Assamese people, seeking popularity by marketing the deprived sections sorrows and painting the whole Assamese community as evil before the whole world. But is the government (or the past governments) taking strict measures to control their population rise which is the root cause of so many related problems like poverty, unemployment, crimes; to curb various superstitions, harmful and blind religious faiths from their communities through proper education? The answer sadly is again, No! And if these social evils go on increasing at this rate, what will be the fate of the indigenous Assamese people living in this land through generations?
Then what can we as the young generation do? We can work, we can toil, and we can leave aside our lethargic natures to give our best to lead our state towards progress and development. It is a good sign that many of our Assamese youth has come forward to do all those types of work which we did not do for ages fearing it will hurt our fragile egos. We should motivate more young people to start up their own ventures benefitting from our rich natural resources and encourage budding entrepreneurs’. Till now we are dependent on a particular community for every type of manual work starting from farming, constructions, laborers, etc. It is high time that our youth becomes self-dependent and learn to get their work done by themselves without depending on others. When we know that we are eating slow poison everyday by consuming these chemical-laden vegetables, why aren’t we even growing our own organic crops? Instead of engaging our youth in political propagandas, strikes and bandhs they should be motivated to do more work. To work for themselves, to work for their families, for their societies, for their motherland, for Assam. Only after shedding inhibitions, prejudices, and pseudo-neutrality in times of crisis can we bring about a work revolution powerful enough to mend the numerous cracks that have cropped up in the yesteryear’s golden saga of Assam.