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'Not One But Thousands of Warrior Mula Gabhoru': Assam Women at Forefront of Anti-CAA Protests

The march against CAA has witnessed the participation of women from across the spectrum; from the octogenarian protesters of the movement in the 1980s to City College students, from actresses to housewives.

Tulika Devi |

Updated:December 18, 2019, 8:24 PM IST
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'Not One But Thousands of Warrior Mula Gabhoru': Assam Women at Forefront of Anti-CAA Protests
Thousands of Assamese women from across sections have taken to the streets to protest against the Citizenship Act.

Guwahati: Assamese women, who have been of the recent protests, have been coming out in the thousands to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The march against CAA has witnessed the participation of women from across the spectrum; from the octogenarian protesters of the movement in the 1980s to City College students, from actresses to housewives.

Remembering the enchanting legacy of the brave Ahom female warrior Mula Gabhoru who had fought off the invading Turbak army in the 16th century, the protestors vowed to fights against immigrants and “protect the motherland”.

Last week, the picture of a young woman carrying a ‘hengdang’ (Ahom sword) in the backdrop of the protest had gone, symbolic of the ferocity and the determination with which the Assamese women led the march today.

The demonstrators were seen carrying posters that read “Kune koi mula nai, hajar mula ase aguwai (who said there is no Mula Gabhoru today, not just one but there are thousands)”.

Raising the slogans ‘Jai Aai Axom’ (Hail Mother Assam) the women remembered the iconic lady from Assam’s history, who took things into her hands after her husband’s demise in the battleground to fight against the Mughals.

Accompanied by the wives of general’s, she had fought till their last breath in 1532. Mula Gabhoru’s sacrifice awakened a new spirit among soldiers and under the leadership of Konseng Borpatro Gohain, the Ahoms defeated the Mughals and killed Turbak Khan.

The modern-day rhetoric of history explains Assam’s oldest agony against immigrants, who continue to threaten the very existence and sub-nationalist pride of Assamese. Assam’s fight is against Bangladesh immigrants. Religion doesn’t count here.

“We can’t accept this act, our state will be doomed, do away with all foreigners. We need to protect our beautiful language, culture and land that is already infested with lakhs of illegal immigrants. Our language will be gone, we will be a linguistic minority in our own state. Don’t bring this please,” cried one wheelchair bound old woman who joined All Assam Students' Union (AASU’s) satyagrah along with other members of their old age home ‘Amar Ghar’.

The Assam anti-CAA protest can be divided in two phases. The first phase has been riddled with instances of violence that effectively subdued the voice of masses who had been protesting against the “incursion of illegal immigrants”.

This violent phase was, however, shortlived as life limped back to normalcy with the curfew being relaxed in many districts including Guwahati city. A total of 215 cases have been registered, 2026 people are detained and 329 people arrested over accusations of vandalism and violence.

A special investigation team has been constituted and government agencies are still searching for the fringe elements.

The movement is now entering its second, more non-violent yet incisive phase. This mass movement is not confined within student bodies or organizations but is seeing the participation of people from across various walks of life.

Everyone from an octogenarian to a teenager, to government employees and housewives are leading the crowd whenever and wherever possible. Several female celebrities have also been partaking in AASU’s three-day long satyagrah.

“We are simple and plain people but not fools. We know what has been done to us, we can’t tolerate this. I want to ask Home Minister Amit Shah what happened to your promise of chasing away every ‘ghuspethiya’? You failed miserably and now you want to bring more ‘ghuspethia’?” asked popular Assamese actor Barasha Rani Bishaya while addressing a public rally in Guwahati.

Another senior actor Prastuti Parashar slammed the Assam government for failing to protect the people. Reciting dialogues from one of her popular play ‘Mula Gabhoru’ she warned, “If needed no Assamese woman will hesitate to fight against illegal immigrants.”

“Where is your promise of protecting our jati-mati-bheti (community-land-existence), you failed and surrendered?” she questioned in Zubeen Garg’s cultural protest program.

Netizens have also been hitting out at the Assam government over its announcement to provide 55,000 government jobs posts and a lumpsome of Rs 50,000 to 2000 artists. Terming it as 'bribe', the people said that the state government was trying to lure protesters away from the cause.

“Whom you are trying to bribe? These are all your shameless propaganda to silence our voice. We don’t need this. We will work hard and continue to protest against your evil design,” actor Amrita Gogoi said criticising Sarbananda Sonowal.

Ace Indian filmmaker Rima Das also agaagainst the act expressed her hope that “her motherland would never give up on the cause”.

“In the midst of darkness we are seeking light, the land of the rising sun will not give up. We had enough, history should not be forgotten. History should not be repeated,” Rima Das told News18.

In the hope to mobilise the people, many organizations have announced fresh protests. AASU has announced a strike against the Citizenship Act on December 21 from 11 am to 2 pm. The student organization plans to go door-to-door to enlighten people about the adverse effect of the amended act.

Initially, the Assamese youths were seen joining the anti-CAA protest rallies reciting the Bharat Ratna awardee Bhupen Hazarika’s evergreen song ‘Akou Jodi jabo lage saraighatoloi, luitor paror deka bandhu nathakiba roi (If Saraighat calls you again, young friends from banks of Brahmaputra don’t stop)’.

The song has reignited a the spirit of millions of Assamese men and women, and its reverberations will be felt for a long time.

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