GUWAHATI: A row triggered by the construction of a pay-and-use toilet in southern Assam’s ethnically-sensitive Hailakandi has forced the district authorities to enforce prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC.
The supporters of Congress and minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) had a scuffle near the construction site on Wednesday in the presence of the local MLA, Anwar Hussain Laskar of the AIUDF, over the toilet’s construction.
The toilet is being constructed by the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department at a garden outside the government-run district hospital, named after former Congress MLA Santosh Kumar Roy in Hailakandi town. The Congress, as well as the BJP, is opposed to the toilet’s construction at the site as it is very close to a statue of Roy. However, the MLA stands in its favour for public’s convenience.
On Wednesday, Laskar was seen lending his hand in the construction much to the chagrin of the Congress and the BJP. He claimed the toilet was being built far away from the statue and as such, there could not be any reason for the controversy.
“I wanted to have it at the bus stand but people wanted it near the hospital. Later, the work started after due approval by the hospital authorities. Just four days into the work, Congress opposed the construction saying the site is too close to the statue. The people in Hailakandi town are suffering in the absence of public toilets. The hospital too is in a shambles and people relieve themselves wherever they can but the Congress and the BJP are not bothered,” the MLA told The New Indian Express.
He said he stood for development and hence, he would not accept the stalling of the work.
Roy’s grandson Rahul Roy, who also is a former MLA and son of former Congress minister Gautam Roy, alleged the MLA had insulted his grandfather by deciding to build the toilet near the statue.
“The MLA is intentionally building it near the statue. The residents of Hailakandi do not accept this. My grandfather was a freedom fighter and a former MLA. This is an insult to him. The hospital has a lot of vacant space where the toilet could have been built. It was the MLA’s decision to have it near the statue. How can there be a toilet at a garden right in front of a hospital?” he argued.
Hailakandi Deputy Commissioner (District Magistrate) Adil Khan said the issue of the toilet was being examined by executing agency PHE. On the enforcement of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, he said, “It was a general preventive measure taken to maintain law and order”.