October 30, 2008 - A black day in Assam’s history. On this very day, nine coordinated bomb explosions in four towns of Assam – Guwahati, Barpeta, Bongaingaon and Kokrajhar - led to the death of around 100 persons and wounded another 545. Apart from the death of individuals, this incident took away the livelihood as well as happiness of numerous families.
Many of the dead were the sole earning members of their respective families; so their deaths meant that the responsibility of the family was left to their wife or in some cases to the old-aged parents or some other relatives. The incident, thus, led to the creation of many such households, which were headed by a women, who had never before taken up the earning responsibility and now apart from running the house, they had the responsibility to the earn for their family as well.
During the last few years, I had met many women, who were widowed by that incident. Most of them are now living a life of struggle. Apart from looking after their children and other household chores, they are also working for a living. This has left many of these women melancholy and depressed, short-tempered and also they now shy away from society. Though they have received one-time financial assistance from the government, it was not enough to carry on with their whole life. Government had promised jobs but many of them did not get it, although being eligible.
Another injustice meted out to these families is that the perpetrator of this crime has not been punished yet. The investigation to the blasts had revealed that the NDFB faction headed by Ranjan Daimary was involved in the blasts. But, he is yet to be sentenced for his crimes. He was, in fact, released on bail for the sake of peace talks with his outfit. He has now been rearrested, after his interim bail period expired on September 29, 2014. Hope he is not allowed to go free again and be given some exemplary punishment for his crimes.
Instead of organizing a memorial service every year, just for the sake of it, the government instead has to make a specific policy for the rehabilitation of the family members of such incidents and it does not mean just paying compensation in cash. According to the qualifications, they need to be settled in jobs. Government may also take up vocational and skill development courses, for those who wish to be self-dependent. Civil society organizations/NGOs could also play their part by helping them in a similar manner.
On this day, I pay my homage to the departed souls and hope we no longer have to witness such massacres again. May peace reign in our state, our country and in this world and also in our minds.