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Assam – India’s State Sponsored Violence against Tea Laborers – Nov. 24th, 2007

November 9, 2011

In continuation. Witnessing violence on the web and choosing to view violence being performed are two distinct things. Here’s another [triggering] footage of violence that brings about a similar sense of visceral horror.

In Nov 24th, 2007, in Guwahati (Assam, India), tribal demonstrators were brutally beaten by (upper caste) locals. 200 people were injured. At least one person was killed, and an estimated 20 are still missing and believed to be dead. One teenage woman was stripped, chased and beaten by local men. At least one woman was raped. The beating was filmed and photographed. Also filmed is state police standing around, doing nothing before dragging half-conscious men into their jeeps and leaving the perpetrators alone.

A protest rally organized by the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA), were marching ( mostly peacefully with some minor vandalism) towards the State Assembly at Dispur in Guwahati. They were demanding Scheduled Tribes (ST) status for nearly 10,000 Adivasi tea labourers in Assam. Not having ST status means that these laborers are considered “outsiders” and reduces their rights and citizenship to outside laborers. It should be mentioned that most of the major parties of the region agree with the AASAA in their demand for ST status.

The AASAA are scolded for marching in the rally. An inquiry commission report, headed by Manisana Singh (published in Feb. 25, 2008), called the protest rally “unlawful”. The inquiry connected the protesters to regional terrorist groups, and had little to say about the killers themselves. They also with-held accounts of protesters like the woman who was stripped naked and beaten and whose plight was shown across the nation.

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) released a press statement, condemning the actions of the police and the state. They also released a solid report on the violence.

As for the teenage girl who was filmed during her horrific plight during the protest — Laxmi Orang — She ran in the Lok Sabha elections in 2008 as the candidate for the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF).

The horrifying experience did not cow down Laxmi who belongs to the ex-Tea Tribe community. The woman who had worked as a daily wage labourer while she was studying, twice turned down jobs offered by the state government, as well as the Rs 1 lakh compensation money, and joined the struggle for scheduled tribe status for Adivasi people in Assam.

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