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Relief camps offer refuge, but little relief
- Inmates make do with threadbare facilities, local boys to the rescue

Nayahat (Dhubri), July 25: It is the third straight day for 50-year-old Ashia Bibi in the relief camp set up in No 1927 Nayahat Lower Primary School in Bilasipara subdivision of Dhubri district, 350km from Guwahati.

But Bibi still trembles recounting the torching of houses in and around her residence in Nayachara village of Kokrajhar district, nearly 210km from Guwahati and 38km from Dhubri, on July 23. She managed to escape with six of her family members, one of them a minor.

Sitting on the mat along with 33 other inmates in a classroom measuring 20 feet by 16 feet and still uncertain about the fate of her house, Bibi rued, “We had to flee to save our lives but now it is a question of survival. Every time there is trouble in BTAD, most of us leave and return home when the situation becomes normal to start life afresh. This is my second time in a relief camp. The last time was few years back.”

Altogether 567 inmates have been provided shelter in this camp.

Hasen Ali, 32, of Kushakati village, also in riot-hit Kokrajhar district, has a similar tale to narrate. “On the first day when we reached here, there was absolutely nothing to eat or means to spend the night. Some local boys came forward and extended a helping hand by opening this school for us. That night thousands entered this area through Sapatgram,” Ali added. Sapatgram is 25km from Nayahat.

Ali said unhealthy and unhygienic conditions prevailing in the camp were adding to their woes. “Water and toilets are scarce. Food is somehow being managed,” he added.

There has been also tales of hope. Sabbir Ali Sheikh, 70, who has been fasting during the holy month of Ramazan all through his life, is keeping the faith. He has been fasting and offering namaz as usual.

“At this stage in life, I can only pray to Allah to end this violence and let all the communities live in peace once again,” he said.

A.I.M. Golam Rabbany, president of Sachetan Yuba Manch, a local organisation of Nayahat area of Dhubri district, who took the initiative to help the displaced people, said it is very sad that trouble had erupted during the month of Ramazan.

“You see the condition of the people in camps. This is the month of Ramazan but people have left their homes to save their lives. We are trying to help them observe roza,” Rabbany said.

Following widespread complaints about absence of basic facilities at the relief camps, chief minister Tarun Gogoi this evening directed PHE minister Gautam Roy to ensure temporary bathrooms, toilets and drinking water at all camps.

According to Dispur, 128 relief camps in four districts have been set up till today housing 1.79 lakh inmates.

A PCC team this evening even asked Gogoi to ensure setting up of new relief camps given the pressure on the existing camps, which were “simply inadequate” to take care of the victims.

Besides Assam PCC, APYC members also visited relief camps in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts, PYC general secretary J.P. Das said. Kajalgaon, headquarters of Chirang district, is 200km from Guwahati.

When contacted, Dhubri deputy commissioner Nurul Amin Laskar said as of today, altogether 49 relief camps have been opened in Dhubri district with over 80,000 inmates taking shelter there.

“The district administration has also started supplying relief materials, including baby food from today. Though no fresh incident has taken place in the last 24 hours, the situation remains tense but under control,” Laskar added.