GUWAHATI: In Assam’s Baksa district bordering Bhutan, thousands of youth thronged a road in a 12km long rally with a 3.5km long Tri-colour being held by a human chain on Wednesday.
Little could one have expected that villages, where Independence Day meant black flags and sloganeering, would see such a rally and hear patriotic songs renting the air.
Over 10,000 people took out the march from Uparkhati to Swagpur and back to Uparkhati. Most of the participants were youth who had missed the Independence Day celebration in their childhood. Blame it on the scourge of insurgency.
“When we were kids, we had seen how schools in our areas would be brought under security cover. Security had to be provided to prevent the rebels from hoisting black flags. They had their hideouts in the jungles of Bhutan. As kids, we were afraid of celebrating the day. We heard about a dozen children being killed in a bomb blast triggered by the militants on I-Day in Dhemaji district in 2004. So, we went through that phase. Things have now improved with the waning of insurgency. People have become positive,” Bapan Das, who is the president of Sunrise Youth Club, told TNIE.
The 3.5km long flag was the club’s brainchild. Asked about the concept, Das said: “We wanted to show to the world about the existence of our village Uparkhati. We expected a turnout of around 4,000 people but over 10,000 people showed up. We are very happy”.
Around 60km north-west of Assam capital Guwahati, Uparkhati is perched on the foothills of Bhutan. The locals here are mostly farmers.
Das said the gigantic flag was stitched with crowdfunding and Rs.5 lakh went into its making. Around 5,000 metres of cloth was used in stitching the flag.
The club’s assistant secretary Pavan Oli said, “We wanted people to know that we are not hit by militancy anymore and that our state is very peaceful”.
Set up in 2006, the club has 79 active members. It has been actively involved in social services.