The people of Assam have been facing hard time due to frequent bandhs called by different organizations to pressurise the Government or the authorities concerned over their demands.
“Bandh creates fear-psychosis among the people of the State. Bandh is like a culture in Assam and the locals observe bandh as a holiday. Frequent bandhs in Assam have crippled down the State’s economy. The bandh callers fail to realize it and appreciate the consequential ill-effects of bandh in social life,” feel the conscious section of the people here.
The 48-hour Assam bandh (which has later been reduced to 12 hours) called by Janagosthiya Aikya Mancha from 5 am on Monday has paralysed normal life in the State.
The Mancha, a forum of six organisations representing six communities of the State, which have been demanding Scheduled Tribe status, called the bandh to protest against the delay in submission of report by the committee constituted by the Centre to recommend the modalities for granting ST status to these communities. In some parts of Assam, the bandh demonstrators burnt tyres on roads.
The bandh demonstrators forced people to shut down their shops and warned people from travelling on roads on cars or other modes of transportation.
“When will the people realise that bandh cannot solve any problem but give rise to only problems? Bandh will drive back the State into backwardness. Time has come not to support the bandh but end the bandh culture in Assam,’’ a Dibrugarh-based social activist said.
In 2010, Gauhati High Court declared bandh “illegal and unconstitutional” as it violates the citizens’ fundamental rights. The order was passed by a division bench comprising then Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Arun Chandra Upadhyay in the light of a 1997 Supreme Court order in connection with a Kerala High Court judgment declaring bandh “illegal’’.
Many organizations in Assam, mostly students’ organizations, feel that the best way to draw the Government’s attention towards their demands or protest against any Government move by calling bandh.
In Assam and other States in the Northeast, militant groups including United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), now ULFA-I, continue to call for bandh during Republic Day and Independence Day.