By celebrating functions like these the BJP government shows that it is keen on winning back the mainstream Assamese vote bank for the upcoming 2021 elections.
The Assam Government today enthusiastically celebrates Swahid Diwas to remember the Martyrs of Assam. Post NRC declaration, the December 10 of every year is used now to celebrate those who died during the Assam Agitation in the 1980s. However, the Minorities in Assam don’t share the similar enthusiasm.
Today, on the occasion of #SwahidDivas, pleased to have joined HCM @sarbanandsonwal at the launch of construction work for Assam Movement Martyrs' Memorial Swahid Smarak & Swahid Udyan in Boragaon, Guwahati.
Tribute to martyrs 🙏 pic.twitter.com/hkyZF5i6BH
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) December 10, 2020
What is Swahid Diwas?
Swahid Divas – Martyrs Day was celebrated every year on December 10 to honour the martyrs who died during the Assam agitation that started in 1979 which ended after the signing of Assam Accord between the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and AASU in 1985.
This agitation was aimed at detecting and deporting illegal foreigners from Assam and to put an end to what was popularly called as ‘Bangladesi Infiltration.’
Earlier, It was All Assam Students Union (AASU) which celebrated this day and honoured the family members of 855 martyrs. It was from 2016, Post Declaration of the NRC, The Assam Government took this function and started observing it as a state function.
Who are these Martyrs of Assam and Why were they remembered now?
The Assam Accord had what was said to be the seed for the Present National Register of Citizens (NRC). The mainstream Assamese political parties had for long stressed for an NRC state-wide. After the Post-Supreme Court’s decision to conduct the NRC process across Assam it rekindled the ideas of Assam agitation i.e, to detect, deport illegal Immigrants.
শ্বহীদ প্ৰণামো তোমাক…
Solemn tributes to the martyrs of the historic Assam Movement. On this auspicious day, let us remember with pride the glorious legacy of the immortal souls who sacrificed their today to secure our future. #SwahidDiwas pic.twitter.com/GkYg6C818P
— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) December 10, 2020
The Linguistic and religious minorities of Assam say that through this Celebration of Swahid Diwas a falsified, majoritarian history that white-washes the horrors of the past.
What do the Minorities have to say ?
Kamal Chakrobarty, a social activist from the Silchar district, says “During the 80s, when clashes between the Assame people and the Bengali people, the Assamese people who died were called martyrs. Since the Assame community believed that they fought in the battle to detect the illegal immigrants but in truth, it was one of the brutal genocide that happened in India on the Bengali Muslim Community.”
When asked what is the reaction of the Bengali speaking community towards this swahid Diwas, he said, “Bengali community doesn’t really care, it became a normalcy that the Assamese government has always been ruled by the chauvinists. Only difference is that the chauvaism is rekindled as an anti-Muslim rhetoric with the emergence of the Citizenship Amendment Act.”
When asked about the Muslim community the retired Economics Professor Abdus Sobur, says that the community doesn’t participate in this program. He said “Post Assam Movement, be it the Congress or the Assam Gana Parishad or the Bharatiya Janata Party, they always aim at appeasing the chauvinist forces of Assam. The sad reality of Assam is that the majority people here are influenced by the chauvinist rhetorics that has traditionally been an Anti-bengali, Anti-Musilm one”
During the CAA agitation in the Assam, the ruling BJP faced a serious backlash from the mainstream Assamese community, where they burnt state BJP-AGP offices accusing them as betrayal to the cause of fighting illegal immigration.
By celebrating functions like Swahid Diwas and honouring Assam agitation, the BJP government aims at winning back the mainstream Assamese votebanks for the upcoming 2021 elections.