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Diphu (Karbi Anglong) Assam, Aug.29 : Karbi Anglong, the most widely spread District in Assam with an area of 10,434 kilometres, is witnessing a high newspaper readership, which is quite unusual for this area existing under the shadow of militancy.
The circulation of dailies in the District has touched a remarkable figure considering various hurdles and drawbacks.
These dailies include the ones published within the District as well as newspapers which come from outside such as Guwahati, Jorhat and other places
It the past, Karbi Anglong has usually been in news for incidents related to militancy or communal disturbance.
Although having an appreciable 57.70 per cent of literacy rate as compared to 65.38 per cent of national index, Karbi Anglong is stated to be one of the most backward district of Assam.
May be to rid itself from its backwardness, Karbi Anglong has opted to achieve a landmark at least in the field of mass media. A revolution was started here in the field of publishing newspapers in the year 2004, which continues till date.
People's quest for latest news is the main reason for the success of the local dailies.
"People here read local newspapers because they get the information of the local happenings besides getting information of the neighboring places. All the small and big news, what is happening is that every nook and corner of the District is also covered by the local papers. So the people go for it," said Babu Rogpi, a local, Diphu.
There are eight local dailies-four of them in Assamese, two in Karbi and two in English.
Apart from these, scores of newspapers such as Assam Tribune from Guwahati, Diphu and other places are circulated here.
While Thekar in Karbi is a hugely popular daily, The Arleng Daily is the first Karbi language daily that was launched in 2004. Other dailies include Sangbad, Dainik Pratibedan, Pahari Doot, Salngdo in Assamese and The Hills Times and The Stead in English.
Aaji, Asomiya Pratidin, Dainik Agradoot and Dainik Jansadharan are among the other language dailies published from other locations in Assam are also circulated here.
Residents of Karbi Anglong believe that a backyard dogfight is more important than a disaster elsewhere.
"Most of the problems of the area were not being highlighted. This is one of the most important causes many newspapers have come up," said Longing Teron, Editor, Thekhar.
As for the drawbacks, Karbi Anglong District receives less than 10 hours of electricity every day and the printing presses operate against these odds.
For the public, there are not many options as far as access to information is concerned. That is why newspapers have emerged as the best source of information.
Bringing out newspapers is not an easy task for the publishers. Yet despite financial hardships and infrastructure hurdles, the mini 'Press Barons' of Karbi Anglong have endeavoured to deliver the goods.
"Guns won't solve our problems. They will only destroy the society. We should restore peace in the society through the pen," says Jang Hingi, a local journalist.
Karbi Anglong today serves as an example for other Districts troubled by militancy in the North Eastern region. It has proved that one can walk on the path of progress, even when situations are adverse. by Peter Alex Todd