“Create Autonomous State or Jail Us”

Massive Jail Bharo Programme Observed At Diphu

On 17 May, 1986 the peoples of K A and NC Hills, the twin districts of Assam, vowed to intensify the movement for creation of an autonomous council covering the region, by implementing the article 244 A of the Constitution. After a 22-year- long mass movement led by CPI(ML), the basic demand was denied by the successive Congress- and BJP-led Governments.

In the backdrop of the Central Government’s discussion of proposals to create new states like Telengana, Vidarbha and Bundelkhand by amending the constitution, and also in the wake of the revival of the Gorkhaland movement for effective autonomy, the Hills Party Committee (HPC) had taken the decision to intensify the mass campaign for autonomous statehood. The campaign started from 22 April 2008 - the 39th Foundation Day of CPI(ML) - and culminated on 17 May 2008, which is the starting day of the autonomous state movement. The campaign began with a ten days mass contact programme where all HPC leaders including leaders of the fraternal organizations camped in the villages and conducted various meeting with all sections of the society, and observed May Day in those areas.

In the second phase they again met people with the slogan “Diphu chalo – Jail Bharo” on 17 May, declaring, “Immediately create autonomous state or jail us”, “Give hundred days work under NREGA for every family” and “Withdraw anti-people land policy of KAAC”. This campaign generated enthusiasm and a warm response among people.

On 17 May a massive crowd of more than six thousand drawn from every nook and corner of the hill region, representing all communities, made Diphu, the head quarter of K A, reverberate with slogans of the above demands.

The District administration at the behest of one of the most controversial cabinet ministers Mr. Himanta Biswa Sharma, who was camping at Diphu to foil the CPI(ML) Jail Bhoro programme, tried its best to disturb the programme by clamping 144 Cr. PC and other suppressive measures. But the strong determination and indomitable spirit of people especially that of rural poor who reached Diphu on foot and on bicycles even from remotest corner ensured the unprecedented success of the programme where several thousand participated.

A massive and spirited procession began from the ASDC (P) office through the main market, overwhelmingly decorated with red flags. The procession was stopped near the statue of Rongpharpe Rongbe where the District Administration declared the procession illegal and arrested the crowd and took them to the KASA stadium which was designated as a temporary Jail.

Later, the leaders including Dr. Jayanta Rongpi, Central Committee member CPI(ML), Rubul Sarma, Politburo member CPI(ML), Rabi Kr. Phangcho, President KANKIS, Jivon Bey General Secretary KSA, Bharat Ranghang, President, AISA KA, Aroti Terangpi, President AIPWA, Kajek Tokbipi, President KNCA, Dipak Ram RYA leader, and L N Subba, President Nepali Suraksha Parishad addressed the crowd in the KASA stadium field.

Leader vowed to intensify the movement for the above three demands, declaring a series of protests in the days to come. Dr. Rongpi demanded an explanation from Congress as to why it could not materialize the autonomous state aspiration of the hill people in spite of having its own Government at Delhi, Dispur and Diphu. He also exposed BJP’s die-hard anti- autonomy stand whereby the party advocates smaller states in other part of the country except the north east. It is notable that the ASDC renegades who are now very close to the BJP could mobilize merely 20 people at their office on 17 May which is also the Foundation Day for them. The Jail Bharo programme has once again resolved that not only the red flag is the banner of peoples’ struggle, it is also the banner of unity and victory.

Liberation Archive