If for a section of the armed outfits of the Northeast, it becomes a ritual to impose a ban on the celebration of the Independence Day (and the Republic Day), the counter-reactions by media persons also emerges equally true to form and more significantly gains momentum day by day. The journalists of the trouble torn state of Assam has not only started disapproving such boycott calls in their media columns, but also assembling in press club to observe the auspicious days of India.
As the country prepared to celebrate its 61st Independence Day, four north-east based banned armed groups namely the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, Manipur People'sLiberation Front, Tripura People'sDemocratic Front and the United Liberation Front of Assam called upon the people of the region to ?boycott and prevent the celebration in any manner?. In a joint statement, issued on August 10, the outfits also imposed a day-long general strike throughout the region starting the midnight of August 14 as a ?mark of solidarity against Indian colonial occupation and repression?.
Simultaneously with the boycott call, the militants stepped up violence in various parts of Assam. The explosions and shootings in different places had snatched away the lives of nearly 40 people on the eve of the Independence Day. Other hundred were wounded in the incidents. Most of the victims were identified as the migrant labourers (Hindu and Hindi speaking) from Northern India. The police blamed ULFA and its ally Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) for the transgression.
The incident invited strong condemnation. Meanwhile, a dawn to dusk Assam Bandh was observed in protest against the killing of common people in the State. Called by Purvottar Hindustani Sanmilan, Bhojpuri Yuva Chatra Parishad, Bihari Yuva Manch and Kamrup Chamber of Commerce, the 12-hour Bandh passed off peacefully on August 14. The ULFA militants received international media headlines, while killing nearly hundred people in the first month of the year on the eve of the Republic Day. Four explosions took place nearer to the Independence Day celebration ground at Gauripur (under Dhubri district) and Bongaigaon in western Assam. The blasts at around nine in the morning, of course, did not claim any casualties though reportedly injuring two persons. Meanwhile, huge amounts of explosives were recovered from Kharupetia, Mangaldoi and Sivsagar localities.
But the violence and the diktat of militants could not prevent the people of the region to come forward to observe the Day. The habitants of Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and also the presently insurgency stricken States like Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura (one CRPF jawan was killed there in militants? attack on August 15) and Assam came forward and participated in the celebration.
The journalist and citizens of Assam gathered in Guwahati Press Club premises to mark the 61st anniversary of Indian Independence Day. Noted litterateur Nirupama Borgohain unfurled the Tri-colour amidst an impressive gathering. Hoisting the flag, Ms Borgohain underlined the significance of Independence Day celebrations in today'scontext and she called upon the young generations to emulate the ideals upheld by the freedom fighters. The people should come forward overcoming all threats issued by certain quarters to uphold the spirit of the freedom struggle, she asserted. Earlier the veteran journalist DN Chakrabarty led the rituals to pay tributes to the martyrs of the freedom movement, who faced all sorts of torture of the colonial rulers to make the country free.
The participants also carried out a procession through the main streets of Guwahati holding the banners reading ?Uphold the dignity of the National flag.? They also chanted slogans like Vande Mataram, Jai Hind, Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The conscious citizens in various parts of Guwahati in particular and Assam in general demonstrated great zeal in upholding the cause espoused by the freedom fighters on the occasion of the Day. They organized community celebrations too at their respective localities with great enthusiasm and hoisted the national Tri-colour atop their houses. Guwahati, for the first time in the last two decades, witnessed community celebrations of Independence Day in more than ten localities.
Signed by Nirupama Borgohain (Sahitya Academy awardee columnist), DN Bezboruah (former President, Editors Guild of India), DN Chakrabarty (former editor of Dainik Asom) with Ajit Patowary, Rupam Baruah, Ranen Kumar Goswami, Hiten Mahanta, Sushanta Talukdar, Dhanjit Kakoti, Pramod Kalita with others, the statement also stated that the Independence Day this time added significance as it coincided with the birth centenary celebrations of the great revolutionary martyr Bhagat Singh.