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Nellie massacre

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Title: Nellie massacre  
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Subject: 1983 in India, Assam Movement, Bangladeshis in India, Anti-Muslim violence in India, Nagaon
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Nellie massacre

Nellie Massacre
Location Assam, India
Date 18 February 1983
Target Bengali Muslim migrants
Attack type
Deportation, mass murder
Deaths 5,000

The Nellie massacre took place in Assam during a six-hour period in the morning of 18 February 1983. Although the involvement of several Lalung (Tiwa) villagers in carrying out the massacre is commonly evoked, the identities of sponsors are debated by scholars.[1][2][3] The massacre claimed the lives of 2,191 people (unofficial figures run at more than 5,000) from 14 villages—Alisingha, Khulapathar, Basundhari, Bugduba Beel, Bugduba Habi, Borjola, Butuni, Indurmari, Mati Parbat, Muladhari, Mati Parbat no. 8, Silbheta, Borburi and Nellie—of Nagaon district.[4][5] Most of the victims were Muslims originally from East Bengal (present Bangladesh) before Independence.[6] Three media personnel Hemendra Narayan of Indian Express, Bedabrata Lahkar of Assam Tribune and Sharma of ABC passing by the region were witnesses to the massacre.[[7]] The violence that took place in Nellie was seen as a fallout of the decision to hold the controversial state elections in 1983 in the midst of the Assam Agitation.[8][9] It has been described as one of the worst pogroms since World War II.[10]


Press clips from 1983

In 1978 the member of the Lok Sabha, Hiralal Patwari, died necessitating a by-election in the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha Constituency. During the process of the election it was noticed that the electorate had grown phenomenally (allegedly due to illegal immigration). The All Assam Students Union (AASU) demanded that the elections be postponed till the names of "foreign nationals" were deleted from the electoral rolls. The AASU subsequently launched an agitation to compel the government to identify and expel immigrants.[11]

The ethnic clash that took place in Nellie was seen as a fallout of the decision to hold the controversial Assembly elections in 1983 (boycotted by the AASU) despite stiff opposition from several elements in the state.[8] Police officials had suggested to hold the polls in phases in order to avoid violence. According to then Assam Inspector General of Police, KPS Gill, there were 63 constituencies, where elections could have been held without any trouble. Among the rest, the Assam police had declared there were 23 constituencies where it was "impossible to hold any election." Nellie was cited as one of the "troubled" spots before the elections.[8] 400 companies of Central paramilitary force and 11 brigades of the Indian Army were deployed to guard Assam while the polls were scheduled to take place in phases.[8]


The official Tiwari Commission report on the Nellie massacre is still a closely guarded secret (only three copies exist).[8] The 600-page report was submitted to the Assam Government in 1984 and the Congress Government (headed by Hiteswar Saikia) decided not to make it public, and subsequent Governments followed suit.[12] Assam United Democratic Front and others are making legal efforts to make Tiwari Commission report public, so that reasonable justice is delivered to victims, at least after 25 years after the incident.[13]

Police filed 688 criminal cases, of which 378 cases were closed due to "lack of evidence" and 310 cases were charge sheeted, and all these cases were dropped by Government as a part of Assam Accord and as a result not a single person got punishment.[6]

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam Accord with the leaders of the AASU to formally end the Assam agitation in 1985.[11]

See also

Link to the book:25 years on..Nellie Still haunts... By Hemendra Narayan,it gives an eye witness account

References and Notes

  1. ^ Kimura, Makiko (2013). The Nellie Massacre of 1983: Agency of Rioters. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India.  
  2. ^ Austin, Granville (1999). Working a Democratic Constitution - A History of the Indian Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 541.  
  3. ^ "Killing for a homeland". The Economist. 24 August 2012. 
  4. ^ (Assam Tribune 2008)
  5. ^ (Rehman 2006)
  6. ^ a b Mander, Harsh (14 December 2008). "Nellie : India's forgotten messacre". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Myth of AASU and Assamese Muslim with validity of Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya
  8. ^ a b c d e "83 polls were a mistake: KPS Gill". Assam Tribune. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Goel, Rekha. "25 years on...Nellie still haunts". The Statesman. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  10. ^ Hussain, Monirul (1 February 2009). Sibaji Pratim Basu, ed. The Fleeing People of South Asia: Selections from Refugee Watch. Anthem. p. 261.  
  11. ^ a b "Tripartite talks to review the implementation of the Assam Accord held in New Delhi on 31.05.2000". SATP. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Rehman, Teresa. "An Untold Shame". Tehelka Magazine. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  13. ^ Reporter, Staff (19 February 2008). "Flashback to Nellie Horror:AUDF to move court for probe report". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 

Further reading

  • Assam Tribune (2008-02-19), "’83 polls were a mistake: KPS Gill", The Assam Tribune, retrieved 2008-02-19 
  • Lahkar, Bedabrata (2008-02-18), "Recounting a Nightmare", The Assam Tribune, retrieved 2008-03-24 
  • Gokhale, Nitin (2005-07-02), "The Simple Safety of Numbers", Tehelka, retrieved 2008-03-24 
  • Gokhale, Nitin (2005-07-16), "Vote banks pay dividends", Tehelka, retrieved 2008-02-19 
  • SAGE Publications India, 2013The Nellie Massacre of 1983: Agency of RiotersKimura, Makiko,
  • Rehman, Teresa (2006-09-30), "Nellie Revisited: The Horror's Nagging Shadow", Tehelka, retrieved 2008-02-19 
  • Chadha, Vivek, Low Intensity Conflicts in India. Sage Publications, 2005.
  • Saksena, N.S. "Police and Politicians" in Alexander, P.J. (ed.) Policing India in the New Millennium. Allied Publishers, 2002.
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