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By most available reports now, mob violence has claimed four thousand lives, rendered about 200,000 homeless, and forced a large number to leave the state for protection elsewhere.The immediate occasion of this bloodshed was the election held in February, though conflict and tension have been present for the last three years.
Two considerations seem to have gone into her decision: her need for an electoral victory due to the reverses her party had suffered in recent state elections, and her intention to negotiate with a new set of elected leaders who would possibly be more pliable than students on the issue of "aliens." Large-scale violence and destruction of lives, property, bridges, and various other resources resulted.
In addition to the predictable attacks on Bengalis in the towns, there were massacres in which first pro-election Boro tribals attacked Assamese villages at Gohpur and later, in the worst massacre witnessed in independent India, another tribe, the anti-poll Lalung, reportedly with Assamese support, killed scores of Bengali Muslims in Nellie.
ETHNIC CONFLICT IN ASSAM Of the three conflicts mentioned, Assam has attracted the largest attention of late.
Not since the 1947 partition of India have so many people been killed and uprooted as a result of ethnic or communal violence.
Because of their educational advantage over Assamese, they were better suited to man the growing administrative and professional machinery.
Bengali Muslims on the other hand, were mainly peasants.
The spread of urban conflict to villages seems to be partly a result of the emergence of support for leftist parties in the previous elections.
The land reform-oriented agrarian program of the left and its attempt to create a base in the Muslim peasantry seems to have antagonized the Assamese landlords and wealthier peasantry.
Despite the existence of an international border, the migration from East Pakistan continued alongside migration from West Bengal.
There is considerable dispute over the actual magnitude, but the most comprehensive estimate shows that between 19 the proportion of Assamese declined for the first time and that of Bengali speakers increased; between 19 itself, as many as 1.2 million migrants were added to a population of 14.6 million in 1971.