Assam-Bihar Issue: Letter To President of India from Assam Society of America

Respected President,

On behalf of the Assamese community in North America, I am writing to express my profound sorrow and deep concern at the unprovoked mistreatment of train travelers from Assam and North East India during their utterly necessary journey through the State of Bihar. For most ordinary citizens who cannot afford exorbitant air travel, trains are the only mode of communication and transport if they want to maintain any substantial connection with the heartland of India. Travel by train, road and air between North East India and the rest of India is of vital interest to the integrity of India and must be secured at any cost.

At the same time, on behalf of the Assamese community in North America, I deeply regret and mourn the lives of innocent Bihari people shed in the tragic aftermath being played out in Assam and Northeast India. There is no justification for the extreme violence visited upon them and it must be stopped at any cost. This loss of lives is absolutely untenable and I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of those who have perished.

However, I would like to remind you that according to recent estimates 1.5 million Bihari people make their livelihood in Assam. These expatriates send a huge amount of money back to their motherland from their hard-earned incomes in Assam. Thus, Bihar benefits handsomely by exporting its people to toil in Assam. These people mostly work in the private sector and a large number of them in menial work, but also a good percentage as traders at various levels.

For most of the 56 years of Independence of India, even highly qualified natives from Assam and Northeast India have been shut out, almost completely, from Central Government jobs. Therefore, we feel that it is a very justifiable demand that all low-level and a large percentage of high-level Central jobs in Assam and Northeast India be given to the natives and long-term residents of the area. Since unemployment is the root cause of the current unfortunate happenings, providing employment to educated youths of the region will benefit those who otherwise are likely to join groups seeking independence from India for the region.

The people of India are blessed to have you as the President of the great land of ours. I trust you will use all the resources available at your disposal to stop the recurrence of such episodes in future. I also implore you to punish the culprits as well as the Government Officials who failed to discharge their duties in Bihar and Assam. However, I want to impress upon you that human rights and dignities of innocent civilians must be respected when you employ Government resources to find the culprits and bring them to justice.

Respectfully,

Mantu Baishya, PhD
President
Assam Society of America
Omaha, Nebraska