100-hr bandh dampens Dima Hasao festivity

Nagaon, Jan. 23 : Frequent bandhs, called either by militant outfits or other groups, have started taking a toll on Dima Hasao district.

Since the beginning of 2011, educational institutions, government offices and business establishments had to remain closed time and again due to these bandhs.

All offices, markets and educational institutions in the district remained closed for the second consecutive day today because of a 100-hour bandh called by the Indigenous Students Association since Thursday.

The bandh, the third to be called this year, has only compounded the people’s woes, as it comes just five days ahead of Busu Dima, the annual three-day harvest festival of the Dimasas.

The festivities start on January 27 every year. “The bandh will end at 9pm on January 25. We have to think how we will prepare for the festival. Closed markets and shops and paralysed communications might dampen the mood among the people during Busu Dima,” said a local official.

NF Railways had earlier suspended service through the hill track for the bandh.

The Jewel Gorlosa faction of Dima Halam Daogah called the first bandh of the year on January 3, demanding release of the outfit’s leaders — Gorlosa and commander-in-chief Niranjan Hojai.

It was followed by a 36-hour bandh called by the joint action committee for Dimaraji movement from 5am on January 18.

The Indigenous Students Association — a platform of all non-Dimasa student organisations — called the current bandh demanding bifurcation of the district into two, and floating of a new autonomous council for non-Dimasas of the district.

As a result of these frequent bandhs, a silent exodus, at least of students, has begun.

“Frequent bandhs pushed me to shift from Haflong to neighbouring Lanka in Nagaon district, where my children can attend school regularly. I think I have done a wise thing even though I miss Haflong,” said Dijen Naiding.

Like him, thousands of families from Haflong, Maibong, Mahur and Umrangsu have shifted to neighbouring Nagaon, Cachar and Guwahati in search of a bandh-free environment. According to an education department source of bordering Hojai subdivision, more than 20 per cent students enrolled in different educational institutions in Lanka are from Dima Hasao.

“Guardians take rented houses in Lanka and admit their students in schools or colleges. Families having bread-earners who either work or have businesses in Dima Hasao are maintaining two houses — one in Haflong for work, and the other in Lanka for their children’s education,” the source said.