The bandh, called by Youths Against Social Evil (YASE), All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students’ Association (ACKHSA), AIDSO, CPM, SUCI, Silchar District Congress Committee, was supported by close to 50 other NGOs and clubs.
The 12-hour bandh call was observed to pay solidarity to the departed soul of a video journalist, Malin Sarma, who was mowed down by a speeding tipper on Sunday night and as a mark of protest against traffic mismanagement in Cachar district.
On Tuesday morning, business establishments kept their shutters down and picketers, mainly womenfolk, were seen stopping vehicles all throughout the day in every major junction point of Silchar town and turning back the commuters.
By 10 am, members from various organizations assembled before the gates of the office of the deputy commissioner of Cachar and blocked its staff from entering the premises.
Police barricades were set up on all three side roads leading up to the deputy commissioner’s office, but, that could not stop the agitators from reaching this place and chant slogans against the district administration’s failure to curb deaths due to speeding heavy vehicles.
In the month of July alone, three persons died due to reckless driving by tippers and trucks passing through this town.
Speaking to Northeast Now, president of YASE, Sanjeev Roy, said, “Today’s bandh call is a call by the public and for the public.”
“Every other day, we hear news of someone receiving injuries or facing death due to the speeding trucks and tippers, for which, if today’s bandh call doesn’t wake up the district administration, we would go for an even massive strike,” added Roy.
At 12 noon, the entire media fraternity of Silchar and from neighbouring Katigorah constituency of Cachar district met DC Laya Madduri and additional superintendent of police Jagadish Das at the circuit house of Silchar, and submitted a memorandum.
Clarifying her point, Laya Madduri, while talking to around 70 journalists informed that her inability to reach the ill-fated spot on Sunday night where Malin Sarma was mowed down, should not be construed as her ‘negligence’ and ill will.
“When I heard the news next day, I was really shocked as I have seen and met Malin many times covering various news events wherever I have visited,” the DC said.
“I also lost my PSO on the same day falling from a train. Even being in a state of shock, I enquired as to what can we do for the family members of Malin,” she added.
As Malin’s wife and daughter too reached the Circuit House and sat near the DC while interactions with the media fraternity was on, Madduri added, “The chief minister of Assam, called personally on Monday evening and enquired as to what we are doing in this regard.”
“A sum of Rs 2 lakh from the District Disaster Management Authority would be handed over to them within a day or two, while from the CM’s fund, additional money would be extended to them shortly,” the DC informed.
She also informed that an initiative would be taken by the district administration for the journalist from the welfare scheme.
“I on my end would see that Malin’s daughter get admission in Silchar’s Kendriya Vidyalaya as soon as possible,” she further said.
Cachar additional SP Jagadish Das, in his briefing, said that the tipper driver, who ran away after committing the crime, would be nabbed within next 12 hours.
Arrest of the guilty driver was one of the demands placed by the media fraternity in their long list of demands.
The other demands include completion of Silchar by-pass with immediate effect, marking of speed limits for heavy vehicles and installation of CCTV cameras in all major junctions of the town.
It has also been demanded that the movement of heavy vehicles be confined between 12 midnight till 4 am.