Featured Reporting

Crossing Over

Rumours were afoot about a conspiracy to get Tripura to merge with East Pakistan. In a Ruritanian plot twist, a key actor in this plot was thought to be Durjoy Karta, a relative of the late king. A local political party, the Anjuman-e-Islamia, promised him the throne if he was able to swing the region still known as Hill Tippera. (Plains Tippera, a neighbouring district governed by British India, had already become a part of East Pakistan.) Anjuman-e-Islamia had strong support from the Muslim Le

A community displaced 25 years ago still waits for land

The headlines were ecstatic. One said, “Amit Shah leads historic resettlement of Bru refugees”. Another said, “For Bru refugees in Tripura, hope after years of struggle for settlement”. Yet another said, “How Solving 23-Year-Long Bru Refugee Crisis Is Shot In The Arm For BJP”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it “a special day” and several senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders called the development “historic”. It was January 2020, and Shah had presided over what was hailed as a landmark mo

Saving elephants from train hits near Deepor beel in Assam

About three years ago, the silence of a quiet evening was broken for Dinesh Das as an adult male wild elephant entered the courtyard of his tin-roofed house in Rani, a village in the Kamrup (rural) district of Assam. The village is surrounded by the Rani Reserve Forest, an elephant habitat. “I panicked. Imagine being confronted by a jumbo,” Das told Mongabay-India as he narrated the incident. The elephant smashed the trunk of Das’s hatchback, a grey-blue Maruti Suzuki 800. “I think it either us

Army Killings in India’s Nagaland Reignite Debate Over Controversial Law

The Mon district tragedy has highlighted once again that, despite ideas of economic development and prospects of northeast India becoming the “gateway to the East” and a “ land bridge to Southeast Asia ,” the region continues to live in a constant state of militarization. Although Indian Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah said the government regretted the “unfortunate incident,” he claimed the vehicle, which the soldiers mistakenly believed was carrying suspected insurgents, was signaled to sto

Assam’s Unique Mobile Drama Tradition Takes the Stage in a Changing World

A spotlight pierces the darkness and reveals swathes of cloth fluttering on a makeshift stage. A model of a ship—flat, made of wood, but with a recognizable silhouette—floats in the center. After the model passes, we see a man and a woman climb a small fragment of the bow of a ship, her arms outstretched as he supports her from behind. An iconic soundtrack blares through the speakers, and the packed house whips into a frenzy. This was nearly two decades ago, when Assamese playwright Hemanta Dutt

The Pandemic Has Exacerbated India’s Mental Health Care Crisis

Leena Khurana was 14 years old when her classmates began bullying her—and soon after, she had her first psychotic breakdown. Leena’s older sister Payal Kumar recalls how her younger sister was “an amazing girl” with a “very high IQ” who excelled in studies as well as music and swimming. Back then, the family was settled in Manchester, England, where Payal and Leena’s father K.M. Khurana worked as a doctor in the National Health Service. After her breakdown, Leena never quite recovered. She attem

India’s Community Health Workers Were Already Overworked. Then Came a Pandemic.

Back in 2006, most of Rebecca Soreng’s time was invested in taking her four children one by one, back and forth, between home and school, on a bicycle. It was around that time when a nurse from a public health centre in India’s northeastern Assam state asked Soreng if she was interested in taking on the role of a community health worker. “She told me I would be a perfect fit for it. But I was mostly occupied with my children and household chores,” recalls Soreng. After much pestering though, she

Fear Of Losing Citizenship Is Driving People To Suicide In Assam

Dimlarpar (Bodoland Territorial Council), Assam: It was a rainy September afternoon in this remote village in Baksa, a district of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in western Assam. Outside a small tin-roofed mud house, Santi Rani Chand, a frail 72-year-old clad in a white saree, sat on a wooden bench recalling her youngest son’s suicide. Binay Chand, 32, had hanged himself from a mango tree in a neighbour’s backyard in September 2018. “Are you from Guwahati?” she asked this reporter, tea