A file picture of Nellie massacre victims
Guwahati, Feb. 18: The ghost of Nellie returned to haunt the government on its 25th anniversary with the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) deciding to move court to make the T.D. Tiwari Commission report on the killings public.
Another organisation representing minorities demanded that the government recognise all those killed in the communal carnage, one of the worst in post-Independence India, as martyrs.
The working president of the AUDF, Hafiz Rashid Choudhury, said his party would file a public interest litigation on behalf of the survivors of the pogrom. He argued that the publication of the Tiwari commission’s report was essential to fight a legal battle for justice to Nellie.
“We had been planning to file the PIL for the past few months. Now that the panchayat elections are over, I will collect the required information and complete the formalities to file the litigation on behalf of the survivors,” Choudhury said.
The Tiwari commission handed a 600-page report to the erstwhile Hiteswar Saikia government in May 1984. The report has since been under wraps.
As many as 1,800 people died in the span of six hours when mobs attacked villages in and around Nellie on this day in 1983.
The Char-Chapori Sahitya Parishad, Assam, organised a rally on the 25th anniversary of the massacre and demanded martyr status for all the victims. It also criticised the government for “not showing the courage to make public the findings of the Tiwari commission”.
The organisation’s other demands include compensation to the victims’ families on the lines of what was paid to those affected by the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
The general secretary of the Char-Chapori Sahitya Parishad, Anwar Hussain, said the government should give jobs to at least one person each from the families of the Nellie martyrs or commensurate financial compensation. “Delhi pays a monthly pension of Rs 2,500 each to widows of victims in the anti-Sikh riots, but Nellie victims have been deprived of government assistance.”
One of the survivors from Nellie, Ajimuddin Choudhury, recalled witnessing people being butchered and lamented that Nellie was underdeveloped even today.
Hussain said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had promised all possible government assistance to residents of Nellie, but none of these was fulfilled. “Nellie is still what it was,” he added.