Wars in the name of religion, caste struggles and adverse sex ratios are well-known evils in our society. But an issue like regionalism in a secular country like ours, making its way to the top of the list, is a bit frightening. The real or perceived threat of outsiders grabbing the jobs of the original inhabitants of the region has resulted in a countrywide fury, and has forced people to take recourse to violence more than once. Resenting the entry of migrants has become a common thing.
In the year 2007, a train loaded with Biharis who came to write exams for jobs with the North East Frontier Railways, were attacked in Guwahati by the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam). This resentment against Biharis resulted in the mass killing of more than 60 ‘Hindi speaking’ people in Assam, including innocent and poor workers. Several old inhabitants of Assam who were essentially Biharis fled from the state to save their lives. In Karbi Anglong District, the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front, an ally of the ULFA, launched a virtual ethnic cleansing process of Hindi speaking farmers, an act which most attribute to the ULFA. It was only few years back when love for Kannada language turned into violence against the Tamil population in Bangalore and old Mysore region. In 1991, when Cauvery Tribunal’s interim award, diverting Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu was announced, it just took a turn for the worse. The riot which started had to be calmed down by calling a state bandh on December 13th, under the Congress-led Government lead by S. Bangaraapa. The cops were merely mute spectators, and could not do anything when the properties were being looted and the Tamils were being targeted.
Post the IT boom, now a new group called the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (the Karnataka protection forum) is leading pro-Kannada agitations. It has not only manhandled the Mayor of Belgaum for passing a resolution that Belgaum should belong to Maharashtra, but also chased away the North Indians who came to attend the Railway Recruitment Board Exams. All the public sector jobs in Karnataka are reserved for the Kannadigas. The steps towards protecting the rights of the ‘sons of the soil’ went to the extreme of scrapping the industries employing several non- Kannadigas.
Some political parties play safe by appointing a large number of civil officers. Recently in J & K, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Arab chipped the wings of the IAS and earmarked ten super time scale posts for the Kashmir Administrative Services. He also increased the KAS cadre strength from 318 to 406. In the Punjab Police, there was a time when the senior superintendents were from the IPS, but now they are mostly from the state cadre.
A classic example comes from the Chief Minister of Delhi, our very own Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, who in 2007, while inaugurating a flyover, remarked that the uncontrolled flow of people from the states had added to the strain on the Capital’s infrastructure. Her statement rocked the parliament and she had to issue an apology. Also, when the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Tejinder Khanna suggested that everyone in Delhi should carry a photo ID card, the strongest protests came from Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar.
Adding to all this is the very recent Raj Thackeray and Amitabh Bachhan Divide. Is this not a divide between Maharashtra and UP??
Regionalism has surely become a problem these days. It is no less than waging wars in the name of religion.