Children play at a relief camp in Gossaigaon on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Dhubri/Guwahati, July 29: They may now be safe from the machetes and the guns but death still stalks over 1,60,000 relief camps inmates languishing in 118 camps across Dhubri district as the lack of basic medicines is making even simple ailments life-threatening.
One minor has already died in a camp at Bilasipara soon after arriving there.
Faruque Sarkar, who has been looking after two camps in Gauripur area, alleged that Arzina Yasmin, 2, had died without treatment in Bilasipara Balika Bidyalaya camp in Baniapara and several hundred camp inmates had been going without treatment.
He admitted, however, that there had been some relief after the Prime Minister’s visit yesterday, with some doctors coming in. “But the number of inmates is very high and more medicines are urgently required,” Sarkar said.
Rup Chand Ali of Bhowraguri, who is staying at the Chowrangimore Girls ME Madarsa along with 325 others, said they were being provided meals cooked in the camp by locals but they needed medical aid and mosquito nets urgently. “We could not bring anything with us when we fled the village and are now spending sleepless nights owing to mosquito bites,” he said.
Over 1,400 people displaced from Gossaigaon, Ramphalbil, Dotma, Bhowraguri, Basugaon, Sapatgram are taking shelter in the Gauripur Adarsha Prathamik Bidyalaya where doctors and paramedical staff are complaining about shortage of medicines.
Dr Anima Begum, who has so far already attended to 200 patients, said the medical camp was running short of medicines, especially antacids and cough syrups. “I have been purchasing medicines with my own money for the ailing patients as these are not being supplied by the health department,” she added.
In the 118 camps, inmates are mostly suffering from fever, diarrhoea and dehydration. “These can be treated, provided there are medicines. Otherwise even these ailments can turn fatal, particularly for children and the elderly,” a doctor said.
Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma agreed that the riots had caught all unawares. “Were you aware that such a situation would arise? Definitely not. So we were also caught unawares... It takes time to prepare,” he said.
The minister visited some camps in Dhubri district today and held meetings with district health officials.
Union home minister P. Chidambaram will visit the violence-affected areas of Assam tomorrow.
During his two-day visit, the minister will review the law and order situation in Kokrajhar and neighbouring areas and will have meetings with senior state government officials.
He would also assess the impact of relief measures and other steps taken to normalise the situation.
BJP leader L.K. Advani, too, will tour Kokrajhar from Monday. He will also meet senior citizens and representatives of different organisations in Guwahati and interact with leaders of the state BJP unit during his two-day stay.
On the other hand, the government in a statement today said the situation in the violence-hit areas in the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts and adjoining areas was fast returning to normality despite the extremely difficult initial circumstances.
There has been no major incident in the last 48 hours and now the topmost priority would be given to relief and rehabilitation measures, it said, adding that the government remained committed to rehabilitation of the displaced persons in their respective villages for which no effort would be spared.
It said fixed police pickets would be created in villages and adequate security forces had already been deployed in the strife-torn areas, adding that a reshuffle of district officers has been effected to gear up the administrative machinery.
The statement added that the government had set up 278 relief camps where around four lakh inmates were being provided food, drinking water and medicines, among others.