By Paritosh Chakma
This is going too far. This morning I woke up to news of another shameful assault on two Buddhist monks in Mamit district, Mizoram.
As I sat silently on my computer waiting anxiously for my sister’s Class XII results to be declared by the CBSE at 8 am today, my phone began to ring. I thought somebody was wanting to know my sister’s result but it was not the case. My sister passed the exam with respectable 57 per cent but my heart sank as the person on the other side of the phone told me that two Buddhist monks were humiliated by two Mizo passengers while traveling from Aizawl to Marpara in Mizoram State Transport (MST) bus on 20 May 2010. It was only two days ago that Buddhist monk, Ven. Kacchayana Bhikku (also a Chakma) was brutally assaulted by unidentified Mizo miscreants in the same route near Phuldungsei!
Ven. Kacchayana Bhikku's case was different. He admitted to me that his vehicle slightly hit the rear view mirror of the Mizos' 407 vehicle -so they got angry and beaten up the Buddhist monk in a fit of rage. I was willing to accept that although violence on a Buddhist monk or Christian Pastor or Hindu Sadhu or Muslim Imam was unacceptable and heinous crime.
But in yesterday's case nothing of that sort happened. It was a cold blooded assault on the holy men. The Buddhist monks identified as Venerable Kabidananda Bhikku and Venerable Gautamananda Bhikku from Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) were on their way to Marpara in a MST bus. When the bus reached Phuldungsei town, 147 km from Aizawl, two Mizo passengers (aged between 25-30 years) began to harass them. The accused pulled the ears of Venerable Gautamananda Bhikku while the other monk was not allowed to sleep in his own seat.
The accused allegedly asked the monks, “Why are you wearing this kind of clothes” referring to the saffron robe of the Buddhist monks, and pulled the ears of Ven. Gautamananda Bhikku in a very demeaning manner.
All this was going on in front of other passengers but none intervened. This is equally shocking. This explains acceptance of the shameful act by the co-passengers who were mostly Mizos. Is Mizoram sliding into a society where shameful acts like pulling the ears of a religious teacher in full public view tolerated? Towards the transformation into radicalism the first thing a society needs is the silent acceptance or tolerance of attacks (whether verbal or physical) on minority community people or religion by the majority. Unfortunately, tolerance of hatred and violence (citing different grounds) by some educated, modern day Mizos is also visible in the discussions at popular blog, http://www.misual.com/ on this subject ( http://www.misual.com/2010/05/20/mizo-in-buddhist-monk-sawisa/) If we the people of Mizoram accept inhuman acts against people of another community or religion, I am afraid this state will be no longer different from any other states where the rights of the minorities are thrashed into the dustbin and minorities are persecuted with impunity.
Among the passengers were three Chakmas – one male and two females but they too could not pull up courage to protest. The victimized monks told me their ordeal ended only when the two accused passengers got off at Pukzing village about 18 km from Marpara.
This is the second case of physical attacks on Buddhist monks in two days. Earlier on the night of 19 May 2010 Buddhist monk, Ven. Kacchayana Bhikku was brutally assaulted by unidentified Mizo miscreants in the same route near Phuldungsei in Mamit district. Read the story I have filed: http://www.merinews.com/article/buddhist-monk-assaulted-in-mizoram/15812894.shtml
Mizoram is often rightly stated to be the most peaceful state in the North East India and I am very happy as well as proud of this. I was also happy when in March 2010, Vice Chairman of the National Minority Commission H T Sangliana, following a visit, found “no serious oppression and persecution of minorities in Mizoram”. But now I am having disturbing thoughts.
I am critically aware about the religious persecution against the Muslims and Christians in states like Gujarat, Orissa and Karnataka etc, but the recent instances of brutal physical attack on Ven. Kacchayana Bhikku, pulling of ears of Venerable Gautamananda Bhikku and harassment to Venerable Kabidananda Bhikku in a public bus (as all other passengers were watching silently) are making me uncomfortable. Is Mizoram, my beautiful state, too moving into radicalism?
These attacks, which are completely unacceptable in a civilized society, highlight the fact that the condition of the minorities in Mizoram is not hunky dory.