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Strike call jolt for BTAD examinees

Kokrajhar, Feb. 27: The scourge of strikes has returned to haunt matric and higher secondary final exam candidates in the proposed Bodoland area with the call for a 100-hour strike by the Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement from tomorrow.

“The strike will affect the students in the proposed Bodoland area. I believe strikes should not be called at the cost of the students’ future, and that too, when they are appearing for the HSLC and HS examinations, which are considered turning points in their academic careers,” a student said.

The reason for the call is the state government’s “lackadaisical” attitude towards the statehood issue. The strike will cover all areas under the proposed Bodoland state, including the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) and adjoining Bodo-dominated areas. The committee has also demanded that the Centre should hold talks with the NDFB (P) at a highest political level, apart from conceding to the demand for the creation of a separate Bodoland state in accordance with Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.

A call for justice sounds noble, but at what cost? “It would definitely affect the students as many of them are from far-flung areas and use buses and other private vehicles to travel to examination centres,” said S. Brahma, a teacher of Kokrajhar Girls’ Higher Secondary School here. He recalled how a student had reached the examination centre an hour hate during the last strike on February 18 — the first day of matric. “Can you imagine the plight of a student in that condition?” Brahma asked.

The most worried lot comprises students from remote areas who have to travel miles by bus or other private vehicles to appear for the exams. In the event of a strike, all means of transport, including buses, will be off the roads, leaving them with no means to reach the examination centres.

“Some students could not appear for the examination because buses were not plying during the last strike,” said a teacher of Kokrajhar Government Higher Secondary and Multipurpose School.

The committee’s leaders said all ongoing examinations, weddings and religious events, healthcare services, water and milk supply, electricity and water supply had been exempted from the purview of the strike.

“Students from remote areas and economically weak backgrounds, who cannot afford to stay in towns or hire vehicles, would be affected,” said a resident of remote Bismuri whose daughter is an HSLC examinee. “Though they are saying that the ongoing examinations would not be affected, how will students from remote areas travel during the strike without the means of conveyance like buses and private vehicles? Who will ensure that they do not miss their exams?” he asked.