When monsoon entered Assam in mid-May, incessant rain caused the first wave of floods in the State. Barak Valley in southern Assam was also hit by flood in the last week of May. At least 14 people of Barak valley lost their lives in the flood.
The Barak river is the main source of water. It passes along Silchar town and joins the Kushiyara river in Bangladesh. The Bethukandi embankment, just 3 kilometres away from the city, protects the city from the strong water current of the mighty Barak river. A gang of miscreants led by a man named Kabul Khan on May 22 broke the Bethukandi embankment. Initial investigation points to sabotage done deliberately to cause floods.
The gang cut a huge portion of the Bethukandi dyke to flush out excessive water accumulated in their land due to incessant rain. This act of sabotage led to the rain-fed Barak river flooding Silchar.
With the second wave of floods, the Barak river water entered Silchar, leaving the entire town submerged. Such was the devastation that the water level rose up to 2 metres in the city. Thousands were displaced, countless numbers of houses, properties were damaged and many lost their lives in the fury of water in the city.
The Irrigation Department on May 23 lodged a complaint in Silchar police station but they too were not sure that the sabotage by a gang of miscreants will bring such devastation exactly after one month. On June 23, Cachar police registered a case on the basis of the complaint filed by the Irrigation Department one month prior to the devastating flood.
Visiting the flood-affected Silchar, Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma told the media that the flood was caused by humans and those responsible would face harsh punishment. Dr Sarma mentioned that six persons have been identified as the perpetrators of the embankment collapse that caused the flood. A video was also shown by the Chief Minister where a group of people was seen damaging the Bethukandi embankment. Kabul Khan, the prime accused, apparently shot a video of the rupture.
A gang of miscreants cut a huge portion of the Bethukandi dyke to flush out excessive water accumulated in their land as a result of incessant rain. This act of sabotage led to flooding in Silchar
Acting swiftly after the instruction of the Chief Minister, the Cachar police on July 2 arrested the main accused Kabul Khan. On July 3, the police arrested three others involved in the sabotage namely Mithu Hussain Laskar, Nazir Hussain Laskar and Ripon Khan. A case was registered by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Assam Police to find out the motive of the crime. Dr Sarma further said, “The Bethukandi incident is a big lesson for us. The next time there is a flood, we have to post policemen at the embankment so that nobody can breach it. Regarding the Bethukandi breach, CID has been asked to register a case in Guwahati. Now the case for the Silchar flood shall be registered in Guwahati, people shall be interrogated in Guwahati and all investigations shall be done from Guwahati.” All the arrested persons were brought to Guwahati and a team of CID are investigating the matter. Cachar police superintendent Amandeep Kaur said that all evidence found in the initial investigation including videos and photographs of damaging the dyke have been submitted to the CID for further investigation. CID sources said that they have begun the investigation. A team of CID is in Silchar to quiz the eye witness and the locals.
Silchar resident and journalist Samiron Chaudhury said that even though the motive behind the damage of the dyke will only come clear in the CID investigation, lakhs of residents of Silchar with more than 85 per cent Hindu population had to bear the brunt.
Cachar district is badly impacted by flood and many parts of the Silchar town still remain submerged.