GUWAHATI: The fear about an “RSS vaccine” has kept many students away from schools in Assam.
Panic has set in among parents as well, particularly in Muslim-majority areas, following widespread rumours that the vaccine will be administered in schools to make students, both boys and girls, infertile.
The vaccine is rumoured to be a plan of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to check population. As a result, many parents have stopped sending their children to schools.
The fear about infertility has gripped people in Chirang, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup (rural) and Kamrup (metro) districts. Some of them witnessed an alarming growth in population in recent years.
The authorities visited many affected areas but could not allay the fear of the people.
On Tuesday, several parents took away their wards midway from classes in a Guwahati school following rumours that the students would be administered the vaccine.
“We’ve never heard of vaccines being injected around the navel but that is what they are doing. We have heard that some children died in lower Assam after they were administered such vaccines. So, we won’t allow our children to be administered the vaccine,” some parents told the media.
Assam’s Health Department had launched a vaccination drive on April 30 against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) that claims scores of lives in the State every year. The vaccine is meant for people in the age group of 1-2 and 15-65 years and it is also being administered among students in schools in Bongaigaon, Morigaon, Nalbari and Cachar districts.
However, they are not the districts where the rumour is in circulation.
Meanwhile, the Health Department on Tuesday warned that those spreading the rumour would be dealt with firmly. Samir Sinha, principal secretary in the Department of Health and Family Welfare, said the police had been requested to conduct a probe to ascertain the source of the rumour. “Lies are being spread to mislead people. We have taken up the matter with the director general of police, Mukesh Sahay, and he will initiate an enquiry,” Sinha said.