STOP THE ONGOING PERSECUTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND POETS OF MIYA POETRY IN ASSAM

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  Assam is going through a delicate time in history. In verge of finding a solution to its much discussed foreigner issue the state has opt to registered its original inhabitants as citizens and list out those who are illegal immigrants in Assam. But eventually that become the most dreaded thing for the linguistic and ethnic minorities of Assam. 51 innocent people had to succumb their life out of the strain and despair in the process. Around five million people are in the brink of being stateless. In such a scenario to fulfill the xenophobic and racist agenda the chauvinist people supported by a covetous and graceless portion of media are constantly in mood of provoking more distress and helplessness in the mind common masses. As a result,  FIR has been filed in Panbazar  Police Station against ten activist poets by one Pranabjit Doloi on 10/07/2019 with the allegation that they the poets are trying to incite communal violence and defame the Assamese Community in the eyes of national and international media through their writing.

  “Miya poetry” is a powerful form of protest poetry which received much appreciation from the national and international audience in the recent past. Scholars and researchers have termed it as an impactful way to express genuine concern against oppression and discrimination. Although it came into discourse recently but its origin can be traced back since 1939. Back then the scholars like Moulana Bande Ali Miya has written poetry in this dialect. It continued during 80s and 90s. Khabir Ahmed is such a poet of 80s. In his poem “I beg to state” he wrote ‘I am a settler, a hated Miya’. That tradition flourished up till now and poets like Dr. Hafiz Ahmed are reclaiming it with more confidence now-a-days saying ‘write down, I am a Miya’. But these poems have been misquoted with different connotations mainly by the anchors in different talk shows in Assamesess regional media and mobs mentality has been incited, which resulted in filing this kind of vague FIR.

    Freedom of expression is a major principle enshrined in Indian Constitution and this is a major blow to our constitutional values. It’s totally against the Article 19 of Indian constitution as well as against basic idea of liberty. Hence strongly condemnable.  All the people mentioned in FIR are prominent social and cultural activist in Assam. To ensure the proper implementation of the NRC they all have been seen helping people in their respective locality and beyond. So, it seems like they have been targeted by the racist and chauvinist people so that their goal to de-citizenise more and more people of a particular ethnicity get fulfilled. Let’s see the work profile of these activists:-

1.     Dr. Hafiz Ahmed: - He is the President of Char Chapori Sahitya Parishad, a literary body propagating Assamese language and literature in Char Chaporis of Assam. He has completed his Phd from Assamese department of Gauhati University on “Axomiya Sahityaloi Bongo Muliyo Axomiya Musolmanor Obodan” . Apart from his poems most of his literary works are in Assamese language. He is a regular columnist in all the major assamese news papers. He is also a novelist, storywriter and editor. One of his much appreciated books is “Lakhipuror pora BTAD loi” where he has documented the atrocities and human rights violation of the minorities in Assam.

2.     Rehana Sultana: This feisty young lady only at her 20s has started making her marks in the socio-cultural scenario of Assam. Her book “Chor-Chaporir lookjibon aro bhasa-sangskriti” meaning thereby the life, language and culture of Char- Chaporis has got much appreciation from the intellectuals of Assam. She also writes articles in the Assamese news daily’s and has done double MA in Assamese language.

3.     Abdur Rahim:- A teacher, an amazing poet and a vocal human right defender. Apart from Miya dialects he also writes in Assamese language.

4.     Ashraful Hussain:- Another journalist and dedicated social activist. He once lynched by a mob while advocating against child marriage. He has also done quite an impactful work in women trafficking. He is writing for all the major Assamese daily and magazines for almost 7 years. Most recently he is documenting the incidents of deaths occurs in connection with NRC.

5.     Abdul Kalam Azad:- The founder of Jhai Foundation Azad is a renowned social activist who dedicated his life for the social upliftment of the people living in Char-chapori of Assam. He also writes articles for the leading national and international media like The Wire, Scroll.in, Aljajera etc. In collaboration with the renowned activist Harsh Mander’s and his team he is trying to secure the rights of citizens who are facing arbitrary bias in the NRC process.

6.     Kazi Sharwor Hussain: Famously known as Kazi neel, this young poet got much acclamation from the literary critics as well as common masses of Assam. Not only the Miya poetry but his romantic poems written in Assamese language are also celebrated immensely in assam.

7.     Salim M. Hussain: - He is pursuing Phd on “Assamese literary aesthetics” at Jamia Milia Islamia and is an accomplished writer and translator. He has translated Kanchan Barua’s “Aximot Jar Heral Xima” from Assamese to English. 

8.     Karishma Hazarika: She never ever wrote anything in Miya dialect except Assamese language. She is doing her Phd in Assamese language. But paying for the sins of being supportive and befriended with people from Miya Community.

9.     Banamallika Choudhury:-  She was being targeted as she host poetry sessions and discussions on Miya poetry at  her book café.

10.                        Forhad Bhuiya: After working as a journalist for a decade in all the leading Assamese news papers and editing a couple of Assamese magazine, now, this man is being identified as a threat to Assamese language and culture.

In view of the above work- profiles where is the malice amongst these activists against Assamese society or Assamese language or culture. It clearly seems that these people were being targeted for the work they are doing to defend human rights of the minorities in Assam. This is an undemocratic and totally arbitrary act and the FIR has been filed with the intention to threaten one particular community. And the most dangerous thing is that presently, there is propaganda launched in both mainstream and social media against these activists. [2] In the given scenerio the following majors should be taken immediately:-

1.     The FIR should be quashed immediately.

2.     Security arrangements should be made against these activists and their family.

3.     Immediate action should be taken against the news channels and anchors who are giving provocative statements on air.

4.     Actions should be taken against those who are threatening the victims and their close ones in social media.

5.     The informant should be booked for malicious prosecution and adequate compensation should be paid to the victims.

                                  Thanking You.

                                                                     Manush Taniya



[1] https://youtu.be/6s4shFNIhmY