Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nellie Massacre

The Nellie massacre took place in Assam during a six-hour period in the morning of 18 February 1983. 

The massacre claimed the lives of 2,191 people (unofficial figures run at more than 5,000) from 14 villages Alisingha, Khulapathar, Basundhari, Bugduba Beel, Bugduba Habi, Borjola, Butuni, Indurmari, Mati Parbat, Muladhari, Mati Parbat no. 8, Silbheta, Borburi and Nellie—of Nagaon district. Most of the victims were Bangladeshi Muslims who had illegally immigrated to the region during the Bangladesh war. A group of media personnel passing by the region were witness to the massacre.

The massacre was one of many violent incidents during the infamous 1983 elections conducted in the midst of the Assam Agitation. The elections were declared against the wishes of the Assam Agitation leaders who did not want an election till the electoral rolls were cleansed of illegal immigrants. In the 1985 Assam Accord, which ended the agitation, that election was set aside and new elections were declared.

The government gave the survivors of Nellie compensation for each death of as little as 5,000 rupees, contrasted for instance with Rs. 7 lakhs that have been paid to survivors of the Sikh carnage of a year later in 1984. Six hundred and eighty eight criminal cases were filed in connection with Nellie organised massacre and of these 310 cases were charge-sheeted. The remaining 378 cases were closed due to the police claim of “lack of evidence”. But all the 310 charge-sheeted cases were dropped by the AGP government as a part of Assam Accord; therefore not a single person has even had to face trial for the gruesome massacre.

A Commission of Inquiry was instituted under Tribhubhan Prasad Tiwary, the report of which has not been made public. There is enough evidence to suggest that successive local governments, belonging to both the Congress and the AGP, have suppressed information about the massacre.