On Independence Day last year, Naskara, a back-of-the-beyond village in Assam, stole the limelight after two students and four teachers hoisted the Tricolour in waist-deep floodwaters on the primary school field. With this, the other problems confronting the village in Assam’s Dhubri district also came to the fore.
A year on, the villagers said as India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day on Wednesday that the final draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), released on July 30 last, was perhaps the only good thing that happened to them in the past year.
A report appearing in the The Telegraph quoted Tajem Sikdar, one of the four teachers of Naskara Lower Primary School, as saying, “The names of over 92 per cent residents were present in the final draft NRC and we hope this will remove our Bangladeshi tag finally. We are considered Bangladeshis despite the fact that our father was born here. The only other difference is that there is no flood this time.”
The report further quoted Tajem as saying, “Vast stretches of roads are still bumpy, voltage is as low as it was last year and the Brahmaputra continues to erode villages. Last year, when the media came rushing and the name of our village and our problems were highlighted, we hoped for better days. But we have seen no significant step so far except the NRC.”
Sikdar and three other teachers – Mizanur Rahman, Joydev Roy and Nripen Rabha – and two Class III students – Haidor Ali Khan and Jiarul Ali Khan – had defied the floodwaters that submerged their village to hoist the Tricolour and sing jana gana mana and Vande mataram during Independence Day last year.
Haidor and Jiarul were selected as they knew how to swim while the rest stood on higher ground and sang the National Anthem. Roy clicked a photograph to forward to the cluster resource centre coordinator for “official record” while Rahman uploaded it on Facebook. It went viral.
The primary school, with nearly 200 students, is situated 2.5 km from Fakirganj town in Dhubri district and 200 km west of Guwahati. Joydev took a transfer, while Tajem, 50, stepped down from the headmaster’s post owing to ill health. A new teacher, Arup Mahanta, joined the school a few months ago.
On Tuesday morning, the students practised for the Independence Day parade to be held on Wednesday at 7.30 am. Haidor, now in class IV, found his name missing from the final draft NRC though his mother and two siblings figured in the list.
“Even after 72 years, there is no Government bus. There is no ATM machine. We have to take a two-hour boat ride over the Brahmaputra to withdraw money in Dhubri town. There is only one higher secondary school offering arts, so students can’t pursue science. Many students of our school get scholarships every year but they can’t pursue higher education in science subjects,” said Mizanur.
He had emailed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a solution to their problems last year. Mizanur received a reply but no action has been taken as yet.