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Beh Dkhar: The anti-Bengali Hindu Movement in Assam


Bengali Hindu women and children in a refugee camp in Shillong in 1979 after the anti-foreigner movement gained momentum in Assam. 

Dkhar, alternatively spelled as Dikhar, is a term used by the Khasis to refer to non-Khasi people in Meghalaya. In real terms, the word mean the affluent, educated settler from West Bengal or the Hindu, Bengali-speaking “East Bengal” man who made Assam or Meghalaya his home 50 years or even 100 years ago. The term is a Khasi word which means a foreigner. It is sometimes abbreviated to Khar. 

The ethnocentric Khasi organizations like the Khasi Students Union and the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council raised the slogan of Beh Dkhar, literally meaning ‘chase the Dkhars away’, directed against the non tribals migrants of the state. Martin Narayan Majaw, the mercurial leader of another ethnocentric Khasi group called Demands Implementation Committee stated clearly, “We don’t like outsiders to stay here. We tell them, come here, appreciate the blue sky and the green hills, and then go away.”

The Beh Dkhar movement led to a communal violence against the non tribals migrants of the state in October, 1979 following the desecration of a Kali image by two Khasi boys in Laitumkhrah, Shillong. Following an order from the Laitumkhrah Dorbar, a traditional Khasi institution, the businesses belonging to non tribal migrants were shut down, those staying in rented houses were asked to leave the state and evacuate the buildings and tenants were issued quit notices by the Khasi owners and told them to go back to their own state. In the violence several people were injured from both the Khasi community and the non tribal migrants community some were killed in Shillong and elsewhere.



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