| Rahul Gandhi visits a camp at Kembolpur MV School at Gossaigon in Assam’s Kokrajhar district on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos
Kokrajhar/Dhubri, Sept. 11: He had to listen to pleas for livelihood opportunities at relief camps in Bilasipara of Dhubri district. In adjoining Kokrjhar district, inmates narrated to him how they had become homeless in their own land.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi later described his experience as one of shock.
“I will carry back this shock with me,” he told the media in a brief interaction while emphasising that “we are all Indians”.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Assam PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita and others accompanied Rahul during his visit to the camps.
Sources in the visiting group said Rahul appeared upset over the entire state of affairs, asking some how such a thing (riots) was allowed to happen.
Rahul visited relief camps in Gambaribil High School and Kembolpur MV School in Gossaigaon subdivision of Kokrajhar district, spending about half-an-hour in each before leaving for Bilasipara.
The visit, however, did not appear to have restored confidence in the people.
“Will it serve any purpose?” asked 70-year-old Namita Brahma of Tulsibil, an inmate of Gambaribil school camp.
“But as he was here, we let him know how we have become homeless in our land. He heard us but they are politicians. We will be happy if he does something but we have little hope,” she said.
Ranjit Brahma of Kachaokata said it would be impossible to go back to his village going by the present situation.
“He (Rahul) spoke of providing security but we are not sure if we can go back. For how long, will they (security personnel) be there? Until these illegal migrants are driven away, it will be difficult for us to return and start life afresh,” he said.
In Bilasipara, Rahul visited Lakhiganj ME Madrasa, 923 Lakhiganj Moktab School and Lakhiganj Higher Secondary (Model) School camps, housing 10,654 inmates since July 23.
The inmates while expressing security anxieties also pleaded with him to help them in getting means of livelihood, as they could not live in the camps for months.
Rahul repeatedly asked whether there was any problem in the camps but the inmates chose to speak about the issues of livelihood and rehabilitation rather than point at inadequacies in the camps.
On rehabilitation, Rahul said, “We are trying to rehabilitate them as soon as possible.”
Majibar Sheikh, 48, of Mokrapara village of Kokrajhar district, said they needed peace and means of livelihood.
“What is the point of going back to my village if we cannot earn there? For earning, I have to work in Kokrajhar but where is the security there?” Sheikh asked.
From Bilasipara, Rahul went to visit camps in Chirang district.
Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary said he had discussed and urged the Congress leader to take necessary action over rehabilitation. He has said the council was clear about rehabilitation of genuine Indian citizens but will not accept people whose nationality was in doubt.
“We will not rehabilitate those who have no land documents and whose names do not figure in the voter list,” he said.
Inclement weather in the evening forced Rahul to travel by road to Guwahati instead of a chopper, from where he was scheduled to fly back to Delhi, while Gogoi returned by train.