Even as Assam continues to witness violence after the passage of the CAB in the Parliament, certain startling details have come out which go on to suggest that the cause behind the present crisis in Assam might not be as simple as it seems to be. Assam CM, Sarbananda Sonowal has claimed that the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and indigenous groups in Assam have little role to play in the violence that has gripped the state.
Sonowal who was himself associated with the AASU during the early years of his political career has told TOI, “There is a negative force behind the violence; we are in the process of identifying this force.” He has also said, “I know that vandalism and violence are not ingrained in the Aasu DNA. Neither Aasu nor any other indigenous group is involved in violence.” Sonowal’s revelations are not without substance. The recent events surrounding the violent protests in Assam show that there are certain vested interests involved which have hijacked the protests and in order to keep the fire burning.
The idea of the protests having been hijacked by rogue, sinister elements gets further corroborated with the attack on Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra, an Assamese cultural museum. The museum depicting Assam’s indigenous culture has been vandalised as per reports on local TV channels. This is clearly not the handiwork of the local, indigenous groups that are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment on the premise that it will destroy the Assamese culture. There is no reason why Assamese chauvinists would fancy vandalising a museum that depicts their indigenous culture. This has to be the handiwork of some mischievous, rogue elements that have clearly taken over the protests from the chauvinist protesters led by the AASU.
Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra, an Assamese cultural museum, vandalised by protesters. What, who and how. Fears that the Assamese ppl's protests are being hijacked by sinister, rogue elements that want to keep this fire burning
— Shubhangi Tiwari (@shubh19822) December 13, 2019
For those who genuinely wanted a confirmation of the vandalism of SSK, here is a screenshot of the news reported from News Live.@ZLaTaNp1KacHu10 @smitabarooah @DrSanjivG @shubh19822 https://t.co/B3mS6RSGgl pic.twitter.com/YYB09Z2VHM
— Sandeep (@sandeep111114) December 13, 2019
What further points towards the presence of insidious elements that has engulfed Assam in unprecedented violence is the statement of a police officer quoted by TOI. He said the perpetrators over the past two days were groups of men dressed in black with covered faces. He added, “These people join protest rallies in small numbers, about 20 to 30 of them in each group. They pose as peaceful protesters, shouting slogans and marching. As soon as they cross a police post, they turn violent and set fire to vehicles that they seem to have identified earlier.”
Neither the modus operandi nor the target of violence suggest the involvement of indigenous or chauvinistic groups in the violent activities that have taken grip of Assam. It must not be forgotten that the anti-CAB stir was launched by the AASU and other such organisations with the idea that the legislation was against the local language and culture of Assam. It was being widely rumoured that once the legislation gets through, Assam’s demographics will witness a major shift.
However, groups like AAMSU which do not want the NRC to take effect in Assam, and AIUDF which has been alleged to make a vote bank out of Bangladeshi Muslims have also joined the protest. The AIUDF has even drawn fire for its sympathy towards the Muslim illegal immigrants in the past. Though their political ideology and objectives directly militate with what the Assamese chauvinists espouse, they have somehow found a way to become a part of the ongoing protests in Assam. They understand that the CAB is going to pave way for the NRC to become effective in Assam, and therefore this groups seems to be using the protests over CAB to keep Assam on the boil and also to avoid NRC. Scroll, a leftist, anti-BJP portal has meanwhile published a report suggesting that faultlines are being redrawn in Assam even as Muslims have joined the Assamese nationalists in the ongoing protests. This shows the kind of agenda and narrative that those who have taken over the ongoing protests in Assam are trying to push.
Then, there is also a clear political objective to make Assam a big, national issue and target the Modi government for it. The postponement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s keenly awaited visit to Guwahati, Assam shows the kind of political objectives the sinister and rogue elements leading the violent protests in the state are trying to pursue. Japanese investments have grown manifold in the northeast including Assam, and more such investments boosting development work were expected in the planned meeting.
The protests which had seemingly started as a spontaneous reaction to a legislation perceived as a threat to Assam’s indigenous values and cultural fabric, have now taken the shape of a sinister conspiracy. Those who have overtaken the protests are now trying to inflict damage upon the Modi-Shah duo and hurt the credibility of the present dispensation within and beyond India. Protests in Assam are no longer an agitation to save Assamese culture and language, rather it is a sinister conspiracy to pursue some nefarious political goals.