The retaliatory violence during an unruly Adivasi demonstration in Guwahati on Saturday has left Assam shocked after an Adivasi woman was and stripped in public and assaulted.
Guwahati residents condemned the attack on the woman as “uncivilised” and political parties were quick to cry for the Congress-led coalition’s ouster in the state for the “unprecedented shame”.
“This is barbarism at its worst,” said culture scholar Keshavananda Deva Goswami.
“This is something you least expect in a region where women are generally more respected than elsewhere in the country.”
According to social scientist Hiren Gohain, the sight of a woman running naked and scared would haunt Assam for a long time.
“One hopes it would not dent the image of a state already rocked by insurgency when Guwahati was striving to be among the most happening urban centres in India,” he said.
Animal rights activist Sangeeta Goswami said it was unnerving to see a helpless woman running scared.
“It is not a question of who started the fight (the woman was allegedly among those who vandalised shops and damaged vehicles) but the whole thing has left a scar society would be unable to erase in a long time,” she said.
Various women’s organisations and artistes’ associations took to the streets condemning the “degeneration”.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has announced Rs 1 lakh compensation for the woman who was stripped and promised to punish the perpetrators of violence. Three persons were arrested on Monday in connection with the stripping.
Other political parties were quick to blame the Congress.
“A government that allows people to run amok and indulge in violence is not fit to be in power,” said AGP leader Chandra Mohan Patowary.
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister and BJP leader Arjun Munda alleged that the violence was “ a clear case of instigation by Congress goons”.
“There is no governance at all in Assam,” he said.
Another former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Babulal Marandi, hit out at the Gogoi government.
“Miscreants in Assam have set a precedent by making a terrified woman run naked on the streets. The government here cannot just shirk responsibility."