As the concrete city of Guwahati was gearing up for the celebration of Republic Day and Saraswati Puja on the same day, the United Liberation Front of Asom- Independent (ULFA-I) urged to boycott the day and called for Assam Bandh.
However, the spirit of Guwahatians to celebrate both the occasion harmoniously has not declined.
Along with the spirit to celebrate the occasions, there is also a sense of fear among the residents of Guwahati of what will happen if any violation of law and order arises.
As the residents of Guwahati, especially girls, will visit their respective educational institutions to offer prayers to the Goddess of Knowledge, the question of security is being discussed among the students.
Speaking on the security issue Guwahati Commissioner of Police Diganta Borah said, “Police will take all the necessary steps to face any kind of law and order situation so that it does not hamper Republic day and Saraswati Puja celebrations after ULFA (I) called for a bandh.”
The General Secretary of Handique Girls College, Annanya Sarma, commented on whether the bandh will affect their students’ spirit to visit the college to celebrate both the occasion.
Sarma said, “The bandh will not affect the spirits of our students to celebrate both occasions as every year we celebrate it whole-heartedly. We will begin the day by hoisting the national flag around 7.30 am which will be attended by all the union members followed by Saraswati puja rituals. The students of our college will visit to offer their prayers although ULFA has called for a bandh.”
Meanwhile, Gauhati University is celebrating three occasions on the same day. They will be celebrating Foundation Day, Republic Day and Saraswati Puja on January 26.
Assistant General Secretary Dalbir Singh said, “The bandh will not affect any of our celebrations because along with Republic Day and Saraswati Puja, we will be celebrating Foundation Day also. The students are preparing for all these three occasions. Saraswati Puja will be held in all the hostels and departments and they have already started their preparation.”
The bandh did not come as a shock to the people of the state as ULFA called for bandh across Assam during Independence Day last year. However, they were hoping that they will not call for a bandh as it might affect Saraswati Puja.
While being asked about the Assam bandh called by ULFA, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that every year they had been calling for a bandh on Independence Day and Republic Day. Last year too they called for a bandh yet the tricolor was seen unfurling across the state and government offices, and educational institutions among others hoisted the flag in the morning. This time also the people will celebrate in the same manner and security will be provided to everyone.
This is the second bandh called by ULFA during Himanta’s tenure as a Chief Minister. Although there are discussions regarding peace talks between the government and the banned outfit underway however, CM Sarma said that Paresh Baruah does not want to talk on any other topic except the independence of the state due to which the peace talk is being delayed.
It is noticed that slowly the influence of bandh called by ULFA is decreasing as people still come out of their homes and do their regular work.
Although the students are claiming that the bandh will not affect their spirits, it is yet to be known whether this time the crowd will be lesser than before or more than expected.