Friday, November 30, 2007

Mamoni’s story on the stripped adivasi girl was in bad taste

This refers to the front page story of Mamoni Raisom Goswami published in The Telegraph, Guwahati edition dated 28th November 2007.

Mamoni is a great writer and I have high regard for her but being an adivasi myself I sensed more dramatics in her story than outrage. The pain and anguish of the victim that should have come out of that story was missing.

Sentences like “their eyes lit up on seeking a nubile young girl in their grasp… like a deer amidst a pack of wolves”; “Then they attacked her churidar-kurta; the chunni was first to be pulled away… the unmistakable sound of clothes being ripped apart”; “One by one, they ripped off her clothes…” It was in bad taste.

It seems she was relishing describing the horrendously sad incident in dramatized detail. Now, that also makes me wonder, is The Telegraph becoming voyeuristic?

Manoj Tirkey -
POLEMICS-Diversity of views -
ACADEMIA - An academic discourse
See photos at:

Please sign an online petition initiated by R N Marandi to condemn the atrocities at:
Please excuse language error in the petition, if any.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A letter for Mr. patil, the Union Home Minister of India

As a tool for development, after the compassionate efforts of the missionaries, Scheduled Tribe status has been the most effective tool of tribal development. All other government interventions have failed miserably because of corrupt administration.

Mr. Patil says “the settlers in the tea estates have tended to lose their tribal characteristics in the new surroundings”. Therefore, they are not eligible for the Scheduled Tribe status.

Well, who does not change in characteristics? Haven’t you Mr Patil? Pick anybody who has taken advantage of the reservation policy and joined government service? Doesn’t he or she change in characteristics? And, isn’t that change desirable?

Often, the service itself requires government servants to be relocated at different parts of the country. Doesn’t it change their characteristics? Sure, it does. If it does, then by your flawed logic all such government servants should lose their ST status.

If for some reason best known to you these government servants’ tribal characteristics doesn’t change despite job related relocations then what makes you think that the tribal characteristics of adivasis of Tea Gardens of Assam have been lost. You should realize that at the time these adivasis were brought to Assam as indentured labourers, India was under British rule and being indentured, they were forced to settle there.

If today’s government servants and their descendents do not lose their ST status despite relocation due to their jobs why should the descendents of Assam’s tea tribes?

If indignity is the hitch, then haven’t these descendants of Jharkhandi tribes become indigenous to the place with over a hundred or perhaps hundred and fifty years of settlement in the state? For sure their geneology, culture and customs haven’t changed and I also believe a solution can be found out if the government has the will.

Jharkhandi tribes, whose place of origin is believed to be the Chota Nagpur Plateau, are dispersed in the states of Jharkhand, Bengal, Orissa and Assam. If Jharkhand, Bengal and Orissa have accorded the ST status to these tribes why not Assam?

Even if one were to agree with the Minister on the loss of tribal characteristics (which of course is not true) then what changes have they acquired? Incidentally, most of these districts are tribal districts and if they have changed then that change can only be tribal since one acquires changes based on his or her surroundings.

Adivasi means, original inhabitants, and Mr. Patil should realize that the adivasis who belong to the dark skinned dravidian stock are the oldest inhabitants of India. The fair skinned Aryans came much later. Is it fair that the oldest inhabitants of India should also be the most backward?

I had the opportunity to travel through one of these Tea Gardens, thanks to a land slide and the resultant change of route. I was appalled to see the pathetic conditions in which my fellow tribals work and live. It reminded me of the medieval lord and serf society which I have only seen through books. Mr. Patil, please pay a disguised visit to one these tea estates and you may see it for yourself.

To add a twist to the tail, as regards change in characteristics, Mr. Patil, haven’t we all evolved from the apes? And just because your forefathers saw light a little early, will you turn the other way and deny the opportunity to my fellow down trodden brethren to catch up with you?

Manoj Tirkey - POLEMICS - Diversity of views - ACADEMIA - An academic discourse
Can somebody pass on this letter to the Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil. If not, please pass it on to all Jharkhandi groups and other tribal friends. Let this reach all tribals on the web.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mayhem at Gauhati – my heart goes out to my adivasi brethren of Assam

Being a tribal myself and an adivasi at that, my heart goes out to my marginalized brethren of Assam for the inhuman treatment meted out to them by the Brahmaputran Barbarians of Guwahati. The barbaric atrocities that were committed on adivasi women and children will continue to haunt my imagination for quite sometime.
It is high time the governments at the centre and the state wake up to the graveness of the problem and take initiative to grant the justified demand of the adivasis to be recognized as Scheduled Tribes.
Hopefully, the blood shed and the tremendous humiliation faced by hundreds of adivasis on the streets of Gauhati does not go wasted.

While I strongly condemn the atrocities of the locals on the Adivasis, I must emphasize that the organizers of the rally should have been more circumspect in controlling their flock.
The administration is also to be blamed for the whole episode. The police in particular, was ruthlessly aligned with the locals in beating up the adivasis. This syndrome of partisan policing is now becoming generic. In recent times, we witnessed it in Gujrat, we saw it Nandigram, and now Gauhati!

No rallies should be violent. Especially, in mass demonstrations that comprise of women and children there is no room for error. Any kind of violence in a mass rally will have horrific consequences. Hopefully, the fledgeling leaders of the rally would have realized their folly by now and I hope that they would be more judicious when they organize a rally next time around.

Here’s a brief guideline for organizing mass rallies:

1. The organizers of a mass rally must acquire the necessary permission from the authorities. Seek police protection if required.
2. The organizers should have a command structure in place. The command structure may have several layers. The smallest unit should comprise of around 20 people. Leaders should be appointed for each layer with complete responsibility for their flock.
3. The plan should be properly communicated to the people going for the rally. Pamphlets and posters can be used extensively to educate the people about the cause. Detailed plans about the means of transport, the routes to be taken, the place of assembly, the speakers for the occasion, and the manner of demonstration should be known to the leaders at the lowest level.
4. If the nature of demonstration demands carrying traditional weapons like daggers, bows and arrows to symbolize the identity of the people, the organizers should ensure that such weapons are dummies only. For example, blunt wooden swords and ordinary sticks may be used to symbolize swords and arrows instead of real swords and arrows.
5. Rally organisers should ensure peaceful demonstrations at any cost. The leaders through out the hierarchy should have a Gandhian sense of determination in this regard. They must realize that the safety of the rally goers and other innocent people in general depends on their actions.
6. Remember, mass rallies comprising of women and children are not the occasions for violent demonstrations.
See photos at:
Also read the comments and an eye witness account at:
Please sign an online petition initiated by R N Marandi to condemn the atrocities at:
Please excuse language error in the petition, if any.