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Letters from India
Assam: Where People Defy Militant's Diktat
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
The 61st Republic Day (of India)

Who says Assam is a land of separatists, where the concept of Indianness is yet to gain popular support! Look how the common people of the insurgency stricken State have shown their braveness to defy the diktats of the separatist militants. They came out in larger number to pay their gratitude to the motherland once again on the 61st Republic Day (of India). Not only the government functions, but also the community programmes for the observation of the Day were flocked by conscious citizens of the region.

In the main celebrations held in New Delhi, India had showcased its vibrant cultural heritage, entrepreneurship and military might, where the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak was the guest of honour.

Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil took lead in the program, where the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with many high level dignitaries were present.

In fact, when the mainland India observed the R-Day with fanfare, the people of Northeast celebrated the Day with utmost conviction. The region joined with the mainland with the carnival comprising various programmes like hoisting Tri-colour, ceremonial march past, competition for children and mass rally on the roads.

Manipur witnessed few explosions prior to the R-Day that wounded four persons. On the other hand, few explosives were recovered from different parts of Assam. At the same time, a number of militants were killed during encounters with security forces in the State before the Day.

The landlocked Northeast, which has been surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Burma and Bangladesh, is the home for more than 20 active armed groups, who have been fighting against New Delhi with demands ranging from sovereignty to self rule. Those banned outfits have been opposing the celebration of I- Day and R-Day since long back questioning the meaning of celebrating these occasions in Assam and Northeast India.

However, the spirit of Nationalism among the people of Northeast never dried up and hence the diktat of militants could not deter them in participating in the celebrations. Like different other States of the mainland India, the alienated region also witnessed the government functions at various State capitals and district head quarters to observe the R-Day.

In Assam, the main function of R-Day was organized at Latashil playground in Guwahati, where the State Governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik unfurled the National flag amidst fanfare. Addressing the gathering, the Governor appealed to ‘all militant groups to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream by holding negotiations to settle their grievances.’

As earlier years, defying the militant’s diktat, city based journalists and civilians came forward to celebrate the R-Day in Guwahati Press Club. Following the appeal from a number of media bodies and civil society groups, the citizens joined the celebration, where veteran journalist DN Chakrabarty hoisted the National flag. He also analyzed the importance of the R-Day, which was recognized as the Independence Day during the pre-independence days.

Later the participants took out a procession in the streets of Guwahati and chanted the patriotic slogans like Bande Mataram, Jai Aai Asom, Down with Terrorism, Condemn Separatism etc. The journalists later joined in sports activities and also sang patriotic songs on the press club premises.

It may be mentioned that a meeting of the representatives of several organizations and individuals was organized at the press club on January 15. The participants of the meeting including Save Guwahati Build Guwahati president Dhiren Barua, Guwahait Mahanagar Unnayan Samiti president of the Subodh Sarma, Brihattar Guwahati Nagarik Samannaya Samity president PC Choudhury, Samannaya Samity secretary general Benudhar Barua, National Federation of Newspaper Employees secretary Nava Thakuria, Journalists’ Forum, Assam leaders Rupam Barua, Hiten Mahanta, Ajit Patowary, DN Singh, Mukul Kalita, Sabita Lahkar, Pankaj Duara, Anup Sarma and Swami Vivekananda Janasiksha Puthibharal president of Satish Tahbildar, musician Kishore Giri, academician Jagadindra Roychoudhury etc made an appeal to the people of the State to celebrate the R-Day in a befitting manner.

The participants unanimously commented that the National Tricolour should be hoisted on the occasion of the Republic Day and Independence Day of the country atop the residential complexes, buildings of the public institutions and at public places.

“Homage should also be paid to the martyrs and those who braved all sorts of torture and atrocities to make the country free from colonial rule- said the participants of the meeting. The people should ignore any threat from any quarter while celebrating the R-Day and I-Day and hoisting the National flag on the occasions,” they stated.

Similarly, the Journalists’ Forum, Assam earlier issued a press statement urging the people to defy the militants’ diktat. A JFA statement argued, “The great patriots like Kushal Konwar, Kanaklata, Mukunda Kakoti, Tilak Deka, Bhogeswari Phukanani and many brave hearts from Assam laid down their lives opposing the British colonial rulers. And the people of Assam have inherited the spirit of freedom from those patriots who made immense sacrifices to make India a free nation.”

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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at






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