| Children attend classes in a makeshift classroom at Sakupora village in Jorhat. Picture by Ankur Borgohain |
Jorhat, April 1: For villagers of Sakupora in Jorhat district under Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency, elections are futile rituals during which their hopes and aspirations are sacrificed by self-seeking leaders who recite promises like mantras.
“The politicians visit us only during the elections, make loud promises and forget us till the next elections. This year is no different,” said Ranjan Bora, a villager.
He said political leaders have been making a beeline to the area for the past few days with promises of shifting them to safer locations if they win.
The 200-odd families of Sakupora, originally settlers of Ahotguri in Majuli island, were shifted to the present location on the mainland in 1988, during the first AGP government in the state, when the Brahmaputra gobbled up their entire mouza.
But the misery of the villagers did not end there. The river continued to chase them and in 2012 it also gobbled up the village they had made their home after being shifted from Ahotguri, forcing them to take shelter on the embankment. Since then they have been staying on the embankment, which was erected to stop the river during the monsoon, waiting to be settled in a new location, out of the reach of the river.
The Brahmaputra, which has been chasing these villagers for over two decades, has robbed them of whatever belongings they had ever possessed.
With no land for cultivation, the villagers make a living by selling firewood at the market in Dergaon town, about 15km from the village.
“We set out in the morning in country boats on the river looking for driftwood and make a living by selling firewood at Dergaon and other places,” Ranjan said.
Digan Bora, another villager, said they have stopped believing in the false promises of politicians but would continue to cast their votes as they hope that “some day, someone would take their problem seriously”.
Digan, who is in his late 40s, said they want a change of guard in politics as the present government has completely ignored them. “Ranee Narah has never visited us, neither did Rajib Lochan Pegu, the Congress MLA from Majuli. We have lost faith in them,” he said.
Both Ranjan and Digan are, however, not sure about what they consider their next best choice, the BJP, would do for them if it came to power.
Staring at the vast Brahmaputra from his makeshift house on the embankment, Ranjan scans the river for a piece of driftwood, which would ensure that his family would not sleep on an empty stomach tonight.