From octogenarian protesters of the 1980’s Assam Movement to teenage students of a city college, established actors and housewives, Assamese women are leading the march against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.
Inspired by the legacy of woman Ahom (indigenous people of Assam) warrior Mula Gabhoru, who fought against the army of Turbak Khan, a Gaur commander, in the 16th Century, the 21st-century Assamese women seem determined to continue the protest against the contentious Act and illegal immigration. A picture of a young lady carrying a 'hengdang' (Ahom sword) in the backdrop of a smoky protest ground went viral last week.
On the roads, women are seen carrying posters with slogans like "Jai Aai Axom (hail mother Assam)" and "kune koi Mula nai, hajar Mula ase aguwai (Who said there is no Mula Gabhoru today, not just one but there are thousands)".
Mula Gabhoru is an Assamese woman warrior, who took things into her hands after her husband’s demise in a battle against Mughals. Accompanied by the wives' of other generals, she fought till for five years till she was killed in the year 1532. Her sacrifice awakened a new spirit among the Assamese soldiers and under the leadership of Konseng Borpatro Gohain, the Ahoms defeated Mughals and killed Khan. The modern-day rhetoric on Mula Gabhoru's resistance explains Assam’s oldest agony against illegal immigrants whom they see as a threat to their existence and the Assamese sub-nationalism. And that's why religion doesn't count in the Assam protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
"We can’t accept this Act. Our state will be doomed. We need to protect our beautiful language, culture and the land already infested with lakhs of illegal immigrants. Our language will be gone. We will become a linguistic minority in our own state. Don’t bring this please," said a wheelchair-bound elderly woman, who has joined AASU’s satyagraha along with several other members of the old age home ‘Amar Ghar’.
Assam's anti-CAA protests can be divided into two phases. The first phase was dominated by violence and instances of aggression subduing the real mass voice against illegal immigrants. This phase ceased to exist after lives limped back to normalcy with the curfew being relaxed in many districts of Assam, including in Guwahati City. A total of 215 cases were registered, 2,026 people were detained and 329 people were arrested with several being accused of indulging into vandalism and acts of violence. A special investigation team has been constituted and government agencies are still searching for fringe elements who caused massive destruction during the anti-CAA protests.
The second phase, which is the evolved phase of the anti-CAA protest, is shaping into a non-violent yet aggressive mass movement. This mass movement is not confined to students or the organisations as people from various walks of life are equally participating and making it bigger and stronger every day. From octogenarians to teenagers, from government employees to housewives, Assamese women of different clubs are leading this crowd whenever and wherever possible.
AASU’s three-day-long satyagraha witnessed many Assamese female celebrities aggressively addressing huge rallies.
"We are simple and plain people but no fools. We know what has been done to us, and we can’t tolerate this. Do I need to ask home minister Amit Shah what happened to your promise of chasing away every ‘ghuspethiya’? You failed miserably and now you want to bring more ‘ghuspethiyas’?" popular Assamese actor Barsha Rani Bishaya questioned while addressing a public rally in Guwahati.
Another senior actor Prastuti Parashar slammed the Assam state government for failing the Assamese people. Reciting dialogues of her popular mobile theatre play Mula Gabhoru, she warned if needed no Assamese woman will hesitate to fight against illegal immigration.
"Where is your promise of protecting our jati-mati-bheti (community-land-existence)? You failed and surrendered," she said at a cultural protest programme.
The Assam government was recently criticised by the netizens for announcing to fill 55,000 vacant government posts and providing Rs 50,000 one-time assistance to 2,000 artists, with the people terming it as 'bribe' to lure protesters and chase them away from the cause.
"Whom you are trying to bribe? These are all your shameless propaganda to silence our voice. We don’t need this. We will work hard and continue to protest against your evil design," said actor Amrita Gogoi, slamming Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Ace Indian filmmaker Rima Das, who hails from Assam, too echoed her voice against the Act and wished Assam would never give up on the cause.
"We are seeking light in the midst of darkness. The land of the rising sun will not give up. We had enough, history should not be forgotten. History should not be repeated," Das told Firstpost hoping for a permanent solution to Assam’s 70-year-old burning issue.
Several organisations, sensing the voice of the Assamese women, have announced fresh protest programmes involving women from all nooks and corners of the state. The All Assam Students Union has announced a strike in protest against the Act with ‘nari shakti’ of every area. This all-Assam strike is scheduled to take place on 21 December from 11 am to 2 pm. The student organisation plans to go door to door to enlighten people about the adverse effect of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.
Initially, Assamese youths, irrespective of gender were seen joining the anti-CAA protest rallies reciting Bhupen Hazarika’s evergreen song A Kou Jodi Jabo Lage Saraighatoloi, Luitor Paror Deka Bandhu Nathakiba Roi (If Saraighat Calls You Again, Young Friends From Banks Of Brahmaputra Don’t Stop), the Assames women seem to be responding to it.
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Updated Date: Dec 19, 2019 12:13:54 IST