Ten renowned individuals of Assam, including public intellectual Hiren Gohain, writer, journalist Homen Borgohain and celebrated filmmaker Jahnu Barua, have written to Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde urging him to deliberate on the prevailing “public outrage and anger in the country”.
The letter stated that the government has characterised the ongoing protests across in the country as being organised by “mischievous elements” whereas the “reaction of thousands of people has earned the sympathy of all right thinking sections of society”.
“It is quite possible that there may have been certain excesses, as mentioned in some press reports, and these are to be deplored but the public discontent and unrest can hardly be dismissed as wilful violence, as is being currently done by the government,” the letter said.
Other signatories to the letter include author Nagen Saikia, scientist Dinesh Chandra Goswami, former Gauhati University vice-chancellor Gajendra Nath Talukdar and former Cotton College (university) principal Udayaditya Bharali and Gauhati Medical College and Hospital principal (GMCH) N.N. Barman.
“The younger generation, as admitted by all impartial observers, is particularly aggrieved and agitated by certain issues that have cast a dark shadow on their lives,” it said.
In Assam, the threat of unchecked migration from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh had been compared by the Supreme Court to a silent invasion and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam was expeditiously prepared under the monitoring of the highest court,” it added.
The letter said at this juncture, granting citizenship to a large number of foreigners will put immense pressure on scant resources of the state and its native population.
The gravity of the situation may be gauged from the fact that while the population density of India is 375 per square km, in Assam it has soared to 400 and given the total land comprising numerous waterbodies and hills, the actual density here may even be as much as 1,000 per square km, it stated.
“When a democratically-elected government in any country arbitrarily and insensitively ignores justified public anxieties and apprehensions and seeks to suppress the reasonable alarm with denial and severe repression, the public reaction to such an attitude tends to be an explosion of frustration and anger,” the letter said.
The signatories hoped that the apex court will pay attention to this issue in the interest of justice and healthy democracy as “people habitually look up to the Supreme Court to maintain our democracy with alacrity and vigour”.