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Human rights in Assam

Jan 02, 2012

Insurgency, Counter Insurgency and the issues of Human Rights by Anandaram Dhekial Phookan College of Nagaon, Assam, discusses a significant phase of the northeast-Indian state of Assam's social history in the recent past taking the cardinal issue of human rights as the focus.

Insurgency, Counter Insurgency and the issues of Human Rights

Published by: Anandaram Dhekial Phookan College of Nagaon, Assam, 2011

Human rights violation in Assam is not new and there is an urgent need for a richer discourse that will recognise the utterances of small voices otherwise drowned in the cacophony of statist commands, feel analysts and writers.

In a novel effort, Anandaram Dhekial Phookan College of Nagaon in Assam has come out with a book on the issues of human rights titled Insurgency, Counter Insurgency and the issues of Human Rights.

Edited by Arindam Borkataki and published by principal S U Ahmed, the book has a collection of specially-written articles by eminent teachers, observers, government officials and rights activists among others.

The book, funded by UGC, discusses a significant phase of Assam's social history in the recent past taking the cardinal issue of human rights as the focus.

"In Assam, the biggest challenge before human rights doctrine lies in addressing a situation where the matters of culture have shifted to the site of political struggle. It is amid an interpretation of politics and culture in the construction and articulation of identities to establish affirm and perpetuate boundaries between the self and the other, both contextually and strategically," writes researcher Kaustubh Kumar Deka in one of the essays.

"One needs to take a critical perception on studying the meeting point of the state and the society while dealing with situation like Assam, where simplified state identifications and complex social identities rarely coincide but often clash," he feels.

Former Assam Police chief Harekrishna Deka writes, "In policy circles, we currently hear that the struggle against terrorism is a calculus of lesser evils in which human rights can be abrogated and even sacrificed. Certainly tough choices must be made and resolute action must be sustained in the name of security.

"In temporary and limited cases, derogation from rights may be justifiable, but nonetheless there is a core of human rights with which no government can traffic and still hold itself as democratic."

Sanjib Baruah, professor of political science at New York's Bard College, takes up the issue of militancy in the state in his article, and argues that the ULFA phenomenon reflects the unresolved tensions between Assamese regional  patriotism and pan-Indianism.

Rights activist Sanjay Borbora feels there is an urgent need for the government to shed its garrison mentality.  "...violence would remain a ubiquitous presence in the  transformation of the northeast unless governance and politics in the region move away from its militaristic mind-set and is tempered with notions of transparency and justice."

There is also an article by lawyer N D Pancholi, who is taking up the issue of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in the Supreme Court, in which writes about death sentence and the Indian Constitution.

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