Guwahati, Aug 8: Assam is witnessing one of the most difficult times ever. In the last one month, the devastating floods have killed more than 30 people and have adversely affected the lives of over 19 lakh people in 23 districts of the state.
As the residents and administration are still grappling with the flood havoc, the news of a deadly terror attack in Kokrajhar district by Bodo militants on Friday jolted the state further. The terror strike claimed 14 lives and injured 15 others.
A high alert has been sounded across the state following the terror attack by gunmen, who opened fire at a village market in Balajan Tiniali, Kokrajhar. Army personnel could be seen patrolling on the roads of almost all the sensitive places in the state. Ahead of the 70th Independence Day which is just a week away, Assam once again looks like a fortress.
"I don't remember when was the last time there was no boycott call by any militant groups during the Republic Day or Independence Day celebrations in the state. In the late 1990s and early 2000s it was worse, when the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was very active. A bandh called by the ULFA during any national day was fully observed. The residents kept themselves locked inside their houses as army men with guns in their hands guarded the roads during those bandhs," recalls Sunil Pawan Barua, political commentator and historian.
Poet Samir Tanti says the recurring flood situation in Assam is very pitiable. "Floods are Assam's annual tragedies. This time the situation has worsened. Look at the plight of lakhs of people in villages whose houses and crops have been washed away by the floodwaters. They are being forced to stay in relief camps where there are no proper facilities. As the water has begun to recede, few have gone back to their homes. Rebuilding their homes would be a difficult task," Tanti adds.
Experts say due to heavy crop loss, farmers are staring at a major agrarian crisis. "There is all possibility of a major outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery in the state, if proper safety measures are not being adopted," said a health official of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Guwahati, the biggest state-run hospital in Assam.
The flood waters have also left the wildlife in the doldrums. At least 25 rhinos have died in Kaziranga during this fortnight, say media reports. While most of them died of drowning, there have been several cases of poaching as well, official sources add.
A student of Cotton College, Guwahati, Pallavi Sonowal says as usual Independence Day is going to be a gloomy affair. "We are proud Indians and happy to celebrate major national days like Independence Day. But with so much suffering around us, it is difficult to celebrate openly. I wish we get freedom from terror and floods soon," adds the teenager, who wants to be an IAS officer and serve the nation.