Not a usual Sunday in blast-hit Guwahati

By Maitreyee Boruah, IANS,

Guwahati : On a usual Sunday, the streets of Guwahati are teeming with people visiting malls, cinema halls and shopping complexes to spend time with family members and friends. But, that seemed unlikely this Sunday.

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The commercial hub or gateway of the northeast, Guwahati is virtually closed for the past four days, an immediate after-effect of serial bomb blasts that had ripped through Assam Thursday.

First, it was the curfew imposed in key areas of Guwahati, Ganeshguri and Dispur, after angry mobs vented their anger against the failure of the administration to save the state from terror attacks.

Curfew was re-imposed in vulnerable areas like Ganeshguri and Dispur in Guwahati, the very next day by the administration to prevent violence by the people.

On Saturday, the city along with the rest of the state observed a complete 12-hour bandh, called separately by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

“Fear has gripped the city. People are in no mood to go out and enjoy their Sunday. The city is grieving and empty streets are a testimony to the agony of the people of Assam,” Rupam Baruah, editor of popular assamese magazine Safura, told IANS.

“Guwahati, the nerve centre of the northeast, has been jolted by the serial bomb blasts. Hope peace and normalcy prevails soon in Assam,” said Baruah.

In fact, Assam will once again observe a 24-hour bandh Monday called by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to protest the worst terror attacks witnessed by the region ever.

Out of the 12 bomb blasts, six happened in Guwahati, one near the deputy commissioner’s office and another inside the district court, two prominent landmarks of the city.

The bomb blasts in Guwahati, Kokrajhar, Barpeta and Bongaigaon have left 77 dead and nearly 300 injured.

Assam is not new to terror strikes by militant groups.

According to figures available with the Assam Police, as many as 423 explosions had occurred in Assam between 2002 and January 2008.

A total of 928 civilians have been killed in these explosions, mostly triggered by United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), said a senior police official of Assam.

“But, the amount of havoc created by the latest serial bomb blasts in Assam is beyond imagination. The entire city looks like a war zone, with roads still strewn with human blood stains and mangled vehicles,” said Sanjib Sabhapandit, national award winner assamese filmmaker and social worker.

Echoing Sabhapandit, poet Samir Tanti said Assam would take long to forget the incident.

“Assam needs time to be normal after so many deaths and destruction. Till, then we can only pray,” added Tanti.

Not only the school and office goers had to keep themselves inside their homes after the terror attacks, the business community is also facing a crisis.

“My business has suffered heavily. The government needs to do something to help Assam become peaceful. How will we be able to survive in a state where bomb blasts have become a regular affair?” asked M.L. Jalan, a business man who owns several shopping complexes in the city.

As Assam mourns its dead, the anger of the common people could not be missed out.

“The city has been turned into a graveyard. I have kept myself inside my home. So many innocent lives have been lost in the blasts. Who are these people… killing innocent lives,” sobbed 60-year old housewife Jyotsna Chowdhury.

Though security forces have made a few arrests in connection with the blasts, yet no concrete conclusions have been reached regarding the main culprits behind the dastardly act.

A television channel Friday received an SMS on behalf of “The Islamic Security Force (Indian Mujahideen)” claiming responsibility for the bombings.