In her essay Truth and Politics, Hannah Arendt, a German-born American political theorist whose major work traces the roots of Stalinism and Nazism, wrote: “The historian knows how vulnerable is the whole texture of facts in which we spend our daily life; it is always in danger of being perforated by single lies or torn to shreds by the organised lying of groups, nations, or classes, or denied and distorted, often carefully covered up by reams of falsehoods or simply allowed to fall into oblivion.... Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear.”
Babita has endorsed the narrative about protecting women’s honour from ‘outsiders’ without realising her own outsider status in Gujarat. Srimukti, disdainfully called an outsider and outcaste in Patiala, is playing a game fighting intruders in Kashmir. The narrative of throwing out intruders to save the Hindu rashtra is integral to the ‘education’ being imparted to the young tribal girls spirited away from home. Even when they themselves, ironically, become outsiders in the process.
The Bodo and adivasis girls, taken away from their homes, have now embraced patriarchal ideas of honour, sati and jauhar instead of turning to their own brave tribal women warriors like Tengfakhri, who fought criminals in the British era instead of committing suicide like the Rani of Chhota Kashi. The ‘bravery’ being instilled in these girls is limited to the Sangh’s Hindu state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes propagandists. They return home indoctrinated and embittered, their teenage rebellion channelised into radical religiosity.
In the last two decades, the Bodoland territory has seen high penetration by Christian missionaries. The SC order mentioned earlier in this report was an indicator of such involvement and trafficking of children. The Sangh parivar has emulated a similar model—and gone a step further—in a grand social agenda that seeks to ensure a permanent ‘Hinduised’ vote for the BJP, which, with its allies, has now come to power for the first time in the state. Sangh outfits have now created an atmosphere of terror to eliminate all possibility of dissent among grassroots activists.
A leading child rights activist from Kokrajhar says, “Prominent children’s aid organisations, such as Unicef, emphasise on improving social conditions within the children’s local setting, rather than uprooting them. But the RSS is arm-twisting activists and parents and brazenly flouting laws to send children away for indoctrination. Moreover, with the new BJP government at the Centre and in Assam now, no one wants to touch this case of trafficking of 31 girls as the RSS is involved.”
And he adds, laughing, “Guess this is the real idea behind PM Modi’s flagship programme for girls—Beti bachao, beti padhao!”
Runumi Gogoi, chairperson of the ASCPCR, says, “If they want to educate the girls, protect them and help in their overall development, why not undertake this noble cause in Assam? Why do they have to be taken to Punjab and Gujarat? It’s even more bewildering how these girls are not able to meet their parents, talk to them, if they are being taken away for education!”
In conflict-torn Assam, parents, young men and women and children resent their situation—there’s dearth of opportunity and development and poor penetration of state welfare. For the Bodos, there’s now a manufactured hostility to Islam and Christianity, and an artificially heightened hostility to the Santhals and Mundas. Encouraged by the Sangh parivar, institutions of family, religion and patriarchy push naive tribal girls and their parents into a path of indoctrination that encourages incessant conflict. Worse, it strips them of the power to exercise faculties not in line with the elite-caste Hindutva mainstream.
The truth of the trafficking of 31 girls by Sewa Bharati and Rashtra Sevika Samiti becomes either too fluid and complex to define or remains opaque. Which is why the destination states, BJP-governed Gujarat and BJP-Akali governed Punjab, violate laws and refuse to restore the girls from Assam.
Theba, Babita’s father, says, “We only wanted my daughter to study. Don’t the poor have the right to aspire to that without losing their children? How will Sewa Bharati build the rashtra by creating despairing parents like me who will die for not being able to meet their children?”
Part 1: Baby Snatching
Part 2: The Trail
Part 3: Ranis Of Chhota Kashi
Part 4: ‘Those Nimn Jaati Girls’