Autumn Number 2019

The Otherside Of The River

Of 'Miyan' and 'Miyan' Poetry

Hiren Gohain

Resistance is not worth the name if it does not aim at defeat of the enemy. An important lesson from present times. The Deep State allows you to vent an anger and frustration unless you threaten its designs. My dissatisfaction with so-called Miyan poetry arises from this disquiet even though it has now won plaudits from metropolitan patrons.

Miyan poetry is so far confined to the facebook. It has not been practised in print. That provokes the first doubt. Why not send these poems for publication to Assamese magazines, which are of unimpeachable radical credentials and which have no prejudice against Muslims of whatever origin?  Esp. when these poets emphatically declare their Assamese identification? For one thing it might have aroused sluggish mainstream conscience about plight of immigrant Muslims like Dalit poetry in Maharashtra and found wider support among broad masses.

Secondly in most Miyan poetry available in print so far (in English rendering) the enemy turns out to be the churlish Assamese who are shown abusing them in a vile manner. This is not uncommon in fact. But why ignore some of the people of purest Assamese origin who have stood up for them and fought against such victimisation? The most important fact is that both immigrant Muslims like those poets and Assamese chauvinists share a common narrative of inherent and unceasing antagonism. But that is a gross distortion of history. The fact is that under the influence of left and democratic ideas the late sixties and the seventies saw a great change in mutual attitudes and a coming together. Many gifted writers of immigrant Muslim origin arose in Assam and were acclaimed. There was an atmosphere of tolerance and fraternity. A student of immigrant Muslim origin became the General Secretary of the biggest and most prestigious college in Assam Cotton College.

Then there was a sudden turn in events. The Assam Movement, it can now be said openly, was overtaken if not hijacked by the saffron organisation and its political organ. (They now proudly proclaim it themselves). Leaders of the Assam Movement did not see through the game or underestimated them. Hundreds of saffron workers worked tirelessly in the countryside for years. Their big leaders addressed massive rallies everywhere in Assam. The result was both a currency of virulent hatred of alleged 'Bangladeshis' and a campaign of vicious harassment and persecution against them criminating in the infamous massacre of Nelie. The Miyan poets show no awareness of this. Perhaps for a reason.

In no Miyan poem in spite of the passion and animus is there the faintest hint of any anger or at least unease against such saffron forces. Even if the younger lot may be naive their older leaders are will aware of this, their real enemy. Grapevine has it that some sponsors are in cahoots with the saffron party.

How does one explain that? There is a strong undercurrent of resentment against the Citizenship Act Amendment Bill. Both indigenous people and immigrants had united in opposition to it. The saffronista are hard put to manage this alliance to suit their agenda. Hence the Deep State which harnesses both soft and hard saffronism with a view to protecting capitalist, feudal and imperialist interests comes to their rescue. Behold! The sudden and vehement upsurge of Miyan potetry.... both safety-valve and diversion.

Is it such an outlandish idea? No, it is now a known fact that the CIA had at one time financed Congress for Cultural Freedom to combat communism and at another time radical Islam and still another time abstract expressionist art to take the wind out of the sail of left radical movements that were gaining popularity.

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Autumn Number 2019
Vol. 52, No. 13 - 16, Sep 29 - October 26, 2019