Jorhat (Assam), May 27 : Various studies conducted on why militancy continues to thrive in Assam and other parts of North Eastern India have come to the conclusion that poverty and a lack of access to education are two major reasons for disgruntled individuals getting attracted towards separatist ideology.
But in Saraipani Village, which falls in Jorhat District, militancy has taken a backseat, thanks to the efforts put in by Jugal Bhuyan, a militant-turned-Samaritan.
Despite being an undergraduate, unemployment pushed Jugal to join the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) for seven years. However, after noticing how militant groups exploited the poor to further their own divisive agenda, Jugal had a rethink and opted to surrender and reform himself.
After finding a helpless abandoned girl child at the Guwahati Railway Station, he had a change of heart towards others' children. He took the child, who was also mentally unsound, into his personal care and made up his mind to return to the mainstream.
Jugal realised the futility of being part of a militant struggle against the State. And soon made it his life's objective to educate young minds so that they don't fall prey into the insurgents trap. He opened a school for poor children in the Titabar sub division of Assam's Jorhat District.
But after his death, his younger brother Pradeep Bhuyan has carried forward his dream, Prajandeep Jatiya Vidyalaya, popularly known as 'Prajalaya'.
Setting up of 'Prajalaya' was the result of that disenchantment with militancy and an attempt towards poverty alleviation.
Today, the students here showcase the change in general mood and mindset. And, the area looks stepping towards development.
"There were a lot of problems during his (Jugal's) association with the ULFA, but then, he decided to come back and settle down. It's difficult, but if the people leave the path of violence, the State can progress on the path of development. If everyone in society follows the same principle, there would be development in all spheres of life. This school came to be opened after lots of hard work," said Pradeep Bhuyan, Jugal's brother.
"The place where the school is situated is a backward place. To take that place forward, we the teaching staff along with other well-wishers to work hard to move forward," said Bhuban Gogoi, the principal of the school.
Prajalaya has now taken the shape of 'Prajandeep Jatiya Vidyalaya' (school) that imparts education to poor kids in the Titabar subdivision. The residential institution today provides free education to children. It is funded by organisations from different parts of the State.
Villagers are keen to send their children to the Prajandeep Jatiya School. This is the first residential school in the Titabar subdivision and has come as a boon for students who want to realize their dreams and earn a decent livelihood.
"I am really enjoying my stay here in the company of other friends. I have seen this new atmosphere which I have never experienced before, and I'd like to stay here," said Upasana Borah, one student.
"We get good education here because the founder of this school, he made Prajnarthi. Because of his hard work, we are thankful to him," said Anish Ahmed, another student.
This school today may not be able to match the modern schools of other cities, but as the saying goes - times are a changing in Jorhat. By Vaschipem Kamondang