IF YOU are different, get whacked, maimed, killed or ejected. Anywhere on earth.
All Australians, I’m sure, don’t hate Indians. Not even Andrew Symonds after Monkeygate and all that. The ones that do – with scary screwdrivers – could very well be Raj Thackeray’s men. Or Paresh Barua’s.
Or Slobodan Milosevic’s, Saddam Hussein’s, Adolf Hitler’s.
Pundits Down Under have attributed Aussie hooliganism against Indian students to economic downturn. Could be, but history reveals those who are dissimilar or belong to a stock different from the majority can sometimes get it real bad. Worse, if they are a prosperous minority.
Maybe the Chinese who preceded Indians to Australia have had similar nightmares. And we all know how the blacks fared in the United States ages before the onset of the Obama era.
Visuals of career-pursuing Indian students on TV, battered in Melbourne, reminded me of Biharis/North Indians who were bashed up by Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navanirman Sena in Mumbai. They also brought back images of Hindi-speaking laborers Barua’s “soldiers” in the United Liberation Front of Asom had gunned down.
Not so long ago, Bengalis were an intolerable community in Assam. Non-tribal or tribal people different from the dominant indigenous tribes were occasionally victimized as dkhars (outsiders) in Meghalaya. And as vais in Mizoram.
Conversely, Northeast Indian students and workers pursuing studies and jobs in New Delhi, Mumbai and other “mainland” cities have often been targeted for racial attacks, raped, molested, walloped, burgled. And taunted as ‘chinks’.
This isn’t a case only of khilonjia – son of the soil in Assamese – versus outsiders, or an earlier set of migrants against a new group of settlers. Ethnically diverse groups inhabiting the same region for ages have fought each other too, the dominating ones more often than not crushing those numerically weaker. Hitler’s pogrom against the Jews, Milosevic’s against Bosnians and Kosovar Muslims, Hussein’s against the Kurds are too well known. The ethnic animosity between the dominant Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, and the majority Sinhalese and Tamils closer home, as well.
And we aren’t even talking Taliban here.
Nor the Hindu caste system. (Sikhs have it too, as the Vienna attacks reveal. So do Muslims and Christians in India, or how else do you explain their Dalit class?)
In India, you have had the Pandits driven out of Kashmir. In at least three districts of Assam, a fifth or sixth of the population is in relief camps or displaced from their homes. A battle, for instance, is raging in North Cachar Hills between the dominant Dimasa tribe and Nagas. These hills have earlier had clashes between the Dimasas and Hmars and the Dimasas and Karbis, each trying to create space towards greater homogeneity and homeland.
Deep down, I guess, we are all feral animals (apologies to all non-human vertebrae and non-vertebrae) stopping short of marking territories with urine but preying on other species, hungry or not.