On 10 June 2016, at about 10.30 pm, Daniel Langthasa, a 33-year-old musician belonging to a band called Digital Suicide, posted a status on his Facebook profile. “So I hear that my father’s murderer will now become the Chief Executive Member of my district. Thank you Mr. Himanta Biswa Sharma ... And thank you BJP,” Daniel wrote. “Wondering if it’s time for me to put down my guitar and pick up a gun instead?”
Langthasa was referring to the election of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Debolal Gorlosa, also known as Daniel Dimasa—the former deputy commander-in-chief of the Assam and Nagaland based extremist group, Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel), or DHD(J), also known as the Black Widow—as the twenty-third chief executive member, or CEM, of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) on 11 June. The 30-member NCHAC controls the administration of Dima Hasao—formerly North Cachar Hills—an autonomous district in Assam. The council is based in the district headquarters, Haflong, which is also Daniel’s hometown.
Daniel began performing in 2006, with a band called Ahimsa. At the time, he was studying at Assam Engineering College in Guwahati. In his final year in college, Daniel skipped his exams in order to play at the Hornbill festival in Nagaland. He never finished his degree. In 2008, he formed Digital Suicide, and began to write what he calls “protest music.” “It was a band, so the song-writing process was collaborative, and our musical influences were mostly Western,” Daniel said. Things began to change when he returned to Haflong, in 2015. He wanted to keep things “simple and spontaneous,” and began recording songs in Hindi, on his acoustic guitar. “More than anything else, I just wanted to talk to the people of Haflong about things that mattered to us, and in our own language,” he said. “I did not care whether the rest of the world would listen.”