The Forgotten Riot

by

Priyanka Kotamraju, The Hindu Businessline, 12the September 2015

For the first 10 minutes of What the Fields Remember, it’s all quiet on the eastern front. The camera rests on the green fields, the brown river, and the men clad in white in the villages around Nellie. The rice crop sways gently. Logs of wood float down the Kopili river, while boats rest on its banks. Children ride bicycles on a kuchcha road; a man sings hymns to the martyrs of February 18, 1983. Sixty-five-year-old Sirajuddin Ahmed sits on the river bank, his back to the camera. In Beluguri village, 74-year-old Abdul Khayer arranges his documents on a cot — case files against the state of Assam in the Gauhati High Court, prints of the Wikipedia page on the Nellie massacre, and a list of people who died 32 years ago.

Subasri Krishnan’s 51-minute documentary on the Nellie massacre, which was shot over one-and-a-half years, is not a reconstruction of the mass killing. It is, rather, a quiet reminder of what has become a bloody footnote in history, a forgotten riot.

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