Featured Image: A deserted Nazirpatty area in Silchar during the bandh.
By A Newsman
Silchar, 16 December: BJP, which had won eight out of the 15 Assembly seats in Barak Valley only about six months ago, today got a real snub from the people of the region and the credit for this solely goes to Rajen Gohain, the Union minister of state for railways.
Silchar, the hub of Barak Valley, has overwhelmingly responded to the 12-hour bandh convened by the Congress and SUCI against Gohain’s recent comment that Bengali should be dropped as the official language of the region and be replaced by Assamese.
Understandably, the region where 13-youths became martyrs in the past to uphold their mother tongue Bengali has responded strongly against such jingoistic assertion.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was once associated with the ultra Assamese nationalism movement, distanced his government from the statement of his party minister, but that has hardly pacified the sentiments in Barak Valley.
Cashing in on this, Congress, whose electoral strength in this once stronghold got reduced to only three MLAs in the last polls, convened a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in Silchar and other parts of Cachar district today against Gohain’s remarks. SUCI chipped in by giving a separate call for bandh on the same issue.
Right from the morning, the bandh has evoked a total and somewhat spontaneous repose in all of Cachar. This is more so because, several apolitical organisations have extended support to the bandh.
In Silchar, the shutdown has evoked such a huge response that by noon, even a single picketer could be seen anywhere. The streets in the town went under the occupancy of youths and children making best use of the unusual pitch for the game of cricket.
A team of about 60 Congress workers led by Cachar district Congress president Karnendu Bhattacharya performed the ritual of picketing at the deputy commissioner’s office around 10 in the morning. Former minister Ajit Singh and former MLA Rumi Nath were among the picketers who soon courted arrest and were taken away by police.
The irony is, even before picketing of any sort, the railways cancelled the four trains that were scheduled ply from Silchar station during the day and rescheduled the Seladah-bound Kanchanjungha Express to depart from Silchar at 05.15 pm instead of 10.30 in the morning.
BJP, which has its MLA in Silchar, could not be seen anywhere in the city streets although several leaders of the party had taken to Facebook asking people to foil the bandh. But as is obvious, people have considered the call yet another trash that keeps on surfacing on Facebook.
“If you talk nonsense about someone’s mother tongue, people would obviously react,” summed up a policeman guarding the deserted DC office in Silchar.