Pune: Recounting the Nelli massacre in Central Assam in February 1983, veteran journalist Sabita Goswami said, “I myself counted 674 dead persons at the massacre scene, where bodies were lying everywhere. It was so heart wrenching that two other journalists, who had accompanied me to the ground zero, lost the count, but I continued.”
Goswami, who had covered the Assam agitation in 1983 and the events preceding the agitation and its fallout, was in the city on Saturday to attend the first public screening of a short film made on her.
Goswami narrated the challenges she faced as a journalist covering the agitation in the 1980s. “I had established a good connection with the pilot, who used to take typed reports to Delhi. Also, back then, it was a struggle to get uninterrupted telephone service.”
Geeta Seshu, a short filmmaker and an independent journalist, was also present at the event. The screening and discussion on the current situation in Assam was held at the Department Of Communication and Journalism, Savitribai Phule Pune University, at Ranade Institute. It was jointly organised by the Network of Women In Media, India (NWMI), Pune Chapter.
Sabita Goswami said the reason behind the agitation was purely economic. It was a fallout of people’s restlessness as their land was being grabbed. She added that the issue, however, became communal after politics started seeping in it.
Goswami told Sakal Times, “The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is an old issue and is precisely the reason why the agitation began in the first place.” Commenting on the agitation, she said, “All political parties had their fingers in the pie.”
She said parties wanted to score brownie points through the agitation. The NRC was to be updated initially but when the Assam Accord was signed, leaders realised that updating of the NRC would create several problems. That is why they did not include updating of NRC in the Assam Accord.
recalling events: Sabita Goswami (R) and Geeta Seshu during a discussion in the city on Saturday.