Kokrajhar, Nov. 18: Pulshri Basumatary was among the first to rush to the market here as soon as curfew was relaxed at 10 this morning. She selected the vegetables she had to do without for the past few days in great hurry without even bothering to check the freshness or the price.
“You can’t afford to be choosy, otherwise you will go back home empty-handed and I don’t want to return home without anything. Just pick up, pay and go home,” the homemaker said, happy at last that she had got her fill of cabbages and cauliflowers.
Quality was inconsequential and no one was complaining; they had to complete all sorts of shopping by 2pm when curfew was to be imposed again. The time, though, was later extended to 4pm.
There were people who knew they were buying even semi-rotten stuff but did not care. “Let me get whatever I can...We will have to manage,” a shopper said, adding that she had already missed out on the onion, which she badly wanted. “In such rotten times, what more can you expect?” she mumbled as she left and, perhaps unwittingly, put the current situation in proper perspective.
It was a seller’s market, with desperate buyers not willing to bargain and end up being penny wise and pound foolish, lest they did not get their requirements. So, the vendors had a field day.
That humble potato, which can stand on its own and also jell with others in the pot with ease and which usually sold for Rs 15-20 per kg, was up by Rs 10. Ditto with its myriad companions — onions, cauliflowers, cabbages and tomatoes — that sold for anything between Rs 40 and Rs 50 per kg instead of the pre-curfew price of Rs 25-30.
“Who will bother about the price when you don’t have anything to eat? You are lucky if you can lay your hands on so-mething and take home. Who knows what will happen next and the curfew continues for a few more days?” asked Prem Brahma, a retired government employee. “You are a reporter, do you know whether the curfew will continue?” he asked.
The usually colourful Kokrajhar market, full of women vendors selling fresh green vegetables, was half empty, as only a few of them had showed up, thus triggering the demand-supply chaos that pushed prices up.
Most of the indigenous community women vendors who come to the market from the villages to sell fresh green vegetables remained absent as few commercial vehicles plied and also because of the late announcement of the curfew relaxation.
The relaxation also came as a boon for some Kali Puja organisers who had not been able to immerse the idols.
The immersion processions, though, were sombre — no beating of drums or full-throated cries of “Kali mai ki jai” — and in sync with the mood of the days.
Curfew was clamped in the district since Thursday after the fresh bout of violence, which started on November 10, claimed 10 lives and left six others injured.
The issue of curfew also came up in the all-party meeting at the deputy commissioner’s conference hall today that was attended by almost all the political parties and organisations of the state.
Bodo Sahitya Sabha president Kameswar Brahma, said, “What kind of curfew is it that a farmer can’t even go the fields and harvest his paddy even in areas which are not at all sensitive and not touched by violence? We hope the administration considers this seriously and makes sure that the common people are not harassed.”