Tag Archives: Assam

Focussing on Bible translation in North East

Missionary work is actively pursued in Northeastern states.

The Bible has been translated into 57 languages in the region and the figure is expected to touch 100 by Christmas 2011. The Bible has been translated so far into Adi, Anal Naga (Pakan), Angami Naga, Ao Naga, Assamese, Bengali, Biate, Boro, Bru, Chang Naga, Dimasa, Gangte, Garo, Hmar, Galo, Hrangkhol, Hmar, Karbi, Khasi, Khiamnuingan Naga, Komrem, Konyak Naga, Kuki and Kyong Naga (Lotha), Liangmai Naga, Lamkang Naga, Lai, Manipuri (Meitei), Mara (Lakher), Maring Naga, Maram Naga, Mao Naga, Mizo (Lushai), Moyon Naga, Monsang Naga, Nokte Naga, Paite, Phom Naga, Poumai Naga, Rabha, Ranglong, Rengma Naga, Rengma (North) Naga, Rongmei Naga, Sumi Naga, Sangtam Naga, Sema Naga, Tangkhul Naga, Tangsa Naga, Thadou Kuki, Thangal Naga, Thangkhal, Tiddim Chin, Vaiphei, Yimchungru Naga, Zeme Naga and Zou (Zomi). The Bible was first translated into Assamese in 1820 that the latest translation was in Nokte, a language spoken by an indigenous group in Arunachal Pradesh.

Jesus is referred as Isua in Mizo, Yisui in Ao, Jesun in Thadou, Isu in Hmar, Poupa Jesu in Paite, Isuan in Ranglong, Jisunii in Maram and Pakai Jesu in Kuki.

The Northeast has diverse languages and the translation project is meant for those who are in need of the Bible. It could be noted that the Bible is the basic foundation of Christian faith. The aim is to make it available to those who aspire to read it. Even though the owners of the project insist that translations are not aimed at popularising Christianity, the demand for translation of the Bible is being created in a consistent way. The holy book is selling hugely among Mizos after it was translated in their language.

The new principle of translation aims at transferring the content into local idioms and expressions. The idea is to reach out to all sections, the young and the old, the learned and the barely literate and the womenfolk. The translation is done meticulously to ensure that the text of the Bible is not diluted. Each indigenous community nominates a linguistic scholar to translate the Bible into its language. The Bible Society of India has a team of experts that compares the translated version of the Bible with the Old Testament in Hebrew and New Testament in Greek. The translation is approved only after the content matches the original text.

NE tribals clash for religious reasons

Religious conflicts erupted between the Rabhas and Garos Christians along the Assam-Meghalaya border. On 5th January, trouble started with four people dead and thousands are displaced. On 30th October, a temple in Williamnagar was allegedly attacked by Garos while protesting against civic polls in the Garo Hills. Prior to this, the Garos complained that Rabhas blockades restricted their movement on NH-37, the only link that connects NH-40 leading to Shillong. Rabhas were blocking National Highway 37 in Assam to press their demand for autonomy under the Sixth Schedule. This is also said to have prevented many Garo students in Shillong from reaching home in time for Christmas. On 22 December, a Garo pastor and his family was attacked while they were travelling on NH-37 during a bandh and it was alleged to be an act of Rabha youth. The Army is reported to have moved into the affected areas.

Over 34,000 people, both Garo and Rabha tribals, have left their homes and taken shelter in relief camps. A number of these people have no houses to go back to, while those who do have homes have fled for fear of being attacked. More than 7 people are killed in the clashes. At least 103 people have been arrested and 25 cases of attempted arson and rioting have been registered in the ethnic-violence-hit areas in Meghalaya

Since the time Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram were carved out of Assam, the inter-state border issues combined with various social factors including active proselytization of Christian missionaries are creating simmering tensions in the region and sometimes lead to death and destruction.

Setting of Assam

India’s northeast, comprising seven states, is home to more than 200 tribes and ethnic groups and is circled by China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  More than 90% of the Indian tribal population is in the Northeastern states. Assam, bigger among the Northeastern states, is home to more than 30 major traditional tribal communities.

Assam with its capital at Guwahati, is located south of the eastern Himalayas. It comprises the Brahmaputra and the Barak river valleys along with the Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hills with an area of 30,285 square miles (78,438 km²). Assam is surrounded by six of the other Seven Sister States: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. These states are connected to the rest of India via a narrow strip in West Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck”. Assam also shares international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh;

Assam was known as Pragjyotisha in the Mahabharata; and Kamarupa in the 1st millennium. Shans (who are Tai ethnic group – Tai being a community of China) constolled this from 13th to almost 19th century.  Ha-Sam (the land of the Shams or Shans) became Assam which ultimately took the Sanskritized form Asama, meaning ‘unequalled, peerless or uneven’. British took control of  the region following the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826.  The British province after 1838 and the Indian state after 1947 came to be known as Assam. On 27 February 2006, the Government of Assam started a process to change the name of the state to Asom or Axom a controversial move that has been opposed by the people and political organizations.

Major religions are Hinduism (64.9%), and Islam (30.9%). Others include Christianity (3.7%), Sikhism (1%),Animism, Buddhism (Khamti, Phake, Aiton etc. communities).

Assam has many ethnic groups and the People of India project has studied 115 of these. Out of which 79 (69%) identify themselves regionally, 22 (19%) locally, and 3 trans-nationally. The earliest settlers were Austroasiatic, followed by Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan speakers, and Kradai speakers. Forty-five languages are spoken by different communities, including three major language families: Austroasiatic (5), Sino-Tibetan (24) and Indo-European (12). Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high degree of bilingualism.

Total population of Assam was 26.66 million with 4.91 million households in 2001. Higher population concentration was recorded in the districts of Kamrup, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darang and Cachar. Assam’s population was estimated at 28.67 million in 2006 and at 30.57 million by 2011, 34.18 million by 2021 and 35.60 million by 2026.

In 2001, the census recorded literacy in Assam at 63.3% with male literacy at 71.3% and female at 54.6%. Urbanisation rate was recorded at 12.9%. There are 27 districts, 219 blocks, 2489 panchayats and 26312 villages. There are 126 assembly segments and 14 parliamentary constituencies. 

Growth of population in Assam has experienced a very high trajectory since the mid-decades of the 20th century. Population grew steadily from 3.29 million in 1901 to 6.70 million in 1941, while it has increased unprecedentedly to 14.63 million in 1971 and 22.41 million in 1991 to reach the present level of 26million.The growth in the western and southern districts was of extreme high in nature mostly attributable to rapid influx of population from the then East Pakistan or Bangladesh.

In 1978 the member of the Lok Sabha, Hiralal Patwari, died necessitating a by-election in the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha Constituency. During the process of the election it was noticed that the electorate had grown phenomenally. AASU demanded that the elections be postponed till the names of foreign nationals are deleted from the electoral rolls, and the Assam Agitation was born.

The Assam Agitation (or Assam Movement) was directed against illegal immigrants in Assam between 1979 and 1985. It is regarded as one of the most vibrant democratic mass movements of independent India. The movement, led by All Assam Students Union and the ‘All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad’, set an agitational program to compel the government to identify and expel the illegal immigrants. The agitational programs were largely non-violent, but there were incidents of acute violence, like the Nellie massacre. The agitational program ended in 1985 following the Assam Accord that was signed between the agitation leaders and the Government of India. The agitation leaders formed a political party, Asom Gana Parishad, which came to power in the state of Assam in the Assembly elections of 1985 and later in 1996.

The post 1970s experienced the growth of armed separatist groups like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Regional autonomy has been ensured for Bodos in Bodoland Territorial Council Areas (BTCA) and for the Karbis in Karbi Anglong after agitation of the communities. As the situation in Assam has turned very serious as communal clashes continue in two central districts of the state, namely Udalguri and Darrang.

In the Karbi Anglong district, the majority Karbis and Dimasas have been engaged in a bitter turf war for many years. Armed militants of both tribes attacking rival community members. The outlawed United Democratic People’s Solidarity (UPDS), a rebel group fighting for a Karbi tribal homeland, and the Dima Halom Daoga (DHD), a militant group fighting for a Dimasa homeland, are  behind the recent attacks. Maoist organizations are suspected to

Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) is a Separatist organization founded around 1996 in the eastern Indian state of Assam. It is a part of the All Muslim United Liberation Forum of Assam (AMULFA), and Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULFA) is a sister organization under the AMULFA umbrella. It is alleged that MULTA is supported by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

The Government of India accuses ULFA of maintaining links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the DGFI of Bangladesh, and waging a proxy war on their behalf against India. The outlawed group was said to be looking to China for shelter following mounting pressure from both Burma and Bangladesh, in turn pressured by India.

Bodoland is an area located in the north bank of Brahmaputra river in the state of Assam, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh; inhabited predominantly by Bodo language speaking ethnic group. Currently the hypothetical map of Bodoland includes the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) administered by the non-autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The map of Bodoland overlaps with the districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri in the state of Assam. The Bodos, a primitive tribe who are mostly either Hindus or Christians, account for about 10 percent of Assam’s 26 million people and live in the western and northern parts of the state.

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, also known as NDFB or the Bodo Security Force, is a terrorist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people in Assam, India. The founder of the organization, Ransaigra Nabla Daimary, alias Ranjan Daimary has been arrested and detained by Indian authorities. Though NDF advocates sovereignty for Bodos, however, majority of its members are Christians, who themselves do not represent majority indigenous Bodos. Bodos use Devanagari script as medium of writing, but NDFB promotes Roman Script to suite their agenda. The NDFB is primarly comprised of Christians who prefer the Roman script. NDFB have committed scores of incidents of violence like murders, bomb explosions, kidnapping for ransom etc. which have had a serious bearing on the law and order situation of the state [Global Security].

Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (BLTF), also called Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), was an armed group operating in the Bodo dominated regions of Assam which demanded a separate state for the Bodos to be carved out of Assam. The organization came into being on June 18, 1996 under the leadership of Prem Singh Brahma. The leaders of the BLT, together with the leaders of All Bodo Students’ Union, formed a political party called BPPF.

BW claims to fight for safeguarding the identity of the Dimasa tribe. Its declared objective is to create a separate homeland, within the Constitution of India, for the Dimasa tribe comprising the Dimasa-dominated areas such as the North Cachar Hills (NC Hills), Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and parts of the Dimapur district in Nagaland.

All 27 Districts of the State reported militant activity in 2009, with the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills Districts being the worst affected. In terms of activity, the Black Widow(BW) was the most effective outfit in 2009, with ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) following close behind. The Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front KLNLF and the All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) remained the principal peripheral militant groups. Further, the ethnic clash between the Zeme Naga (supported by the Nagaland-based NSCN-IM) and Dimasa (backed by the BW) tribes claimed the life of 43 civilians (according to the SATP database) in the North Cachar Hills District in 2009. However, the surrender of a large number of BW militants in the second half of 2009 provided some respite in this troubled District.

The big story emerging from Assam in 2009 is the disarray of among the most important militant groups operating in the State. Augmenting counter-terrorism co-operation between India and Bangladesh has created panic among these outfits, who had long taken their safe havens and state support in Bangladesh for granted. With the latest arrests and handing over to Indian authorities of militant leaders like Shashadhar Choudhury, Chitrabhan Hazarika, Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Barua, who have led a lethal terrorist campaign for the last 30 years, the arrest of at least 494 militants and 732 surrenders during 2009, along with some of the leading militant groups such as BW and UPDS seeking to enter a negotiation process, there have certainly been watershed changes in the State. It remains to be seen whether the Government will display the necessary wisdom to consolidate these advantages, or will waste them through ill-conceived initiatives or a lapse into complacence.

NDFB kills 24 Hindi speaking in Assam serial attacks

Tribal separatists gunned down a woman and injured three people in Assam on Wednesday, continuing their attacks on Hindi speakers and minorities for the third straight day and taking the death toll in the serial strikes to 24, police say. A police spokesperson said heavily armed militants of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) early on Wednesday attacked Jamuguri village in Kokrajhar district and opened indiscriminate firing.

“A woman named Kalwa Chauhan died on the spot while three more were injured as NDFB militants sprayed bullets from automatic weapons,” a senior police official said. The masked militants, numbering six, came in motorcycles and sped away soon after the attack.

There have been at least 11 separate attacks since Monday evening with NDFB militants launching coordinated strikes, targeting mostly Hindi speakers and people belonging to the minority community.

“There is a definite pattern to the killings with most casualties either Hindi- speaking people or minorities,” the police official said.

At least 15 people have been injured in the attacks and they are now admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Gauhati Medical College Hospital.

The NDFB on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attacks and warned of more violent strikes in the next few days.

The attacks came hours after security forces Monday morning gunned down an NDFB militant in Sonitpur district during an encounter.

On Nov 1, the NDFB threatened to kill 20 or more people if any one of their cadres was killed by the security forces in shootouts.

A massive anti-insurgency operation was launched since Monday with army, police and paramilitary troopers conducting raids in NDFB-affected areas in northern and western Assam.

“Army, police and paramilitary forces are conducting specific operations in NDFB pockets,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

Security forces in the past three months have killed at least 20 NDFB cadres, besides arresting more than 15 militants in separate raids even as the tribal separatist group continues with a series of kidnappings for money.

via NDFB kills again, 24 dead in Assam serial attacks