32 Years Ago 2000 Muslims Were Massacred: This Film Recalls What The Public Forgot

By Kartik Shankar, Youth Ki Awaaz, 4th August 2015

In the early morning of February 18, 1983, mobs armed with sticks and scythes ascended on Muslim families in villages. The frenzied mob had a vendetta against families that migrated from former East Bengal in the early 20th century; a fallout of Indira Gandhi’s controversial decision, to give more than four million people who had migrated to India after Bangladesh’s formation, the right to vote. Lush green fields along the banks of the river Kopili became the site of mass bloodshed, which involved women and small children. Official figures put the toll at more than 2000. Some say the actual number may be closer to 6000. Yet, this incident remains almost forgotten in our nation’s history. When Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam Accord, to end the agitation that led to the pogrom, there was an unspoken agreement that the brutal murders were to be swept under the rug. Not a single person has been convicted in the thirty years and all the victims received, were pitiful compensations. With barely any media coverage and even official government documents like the Tiwari Commission report being kept away from the public, all that remained were the victim’s painful and fragmented memories. Reputed documentarian Subasri Krishnan’s latest What The Fields Remember aims to bring those memories back into the nation’s consciousness. The documentary begins with shots of verdure pastures, as if to lull the viewer into a false sense of security, as on the day of the massacre. What The Fields Remember, which mostly divides its time between two fathers, both of whom lost children in the pogrom, is a moving paean to the people who have never given up the fight in their hearts. It’s the story about people who constantly have to prove their citizenship in a nation that considers one group of people natural citizens and another group outsiders. It’s also a shocking wake-up call for the callous manner in which our government and justice system has dealt with this ethnic cleansing. Youth Ki Awaaz interviewed Subasri Krishnan on her searing documentary. Read the interview here

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