GUWAHATI: There was a mad rush of residents at various markets of Guwahati on Friday morning after some news channels erroneously reported that the curfew had been lifted.
Thousands of people, hit by a scarcity of essential commodities, made a beeline to the shops, pushing and jostling to get in the queue.
However, police and paramilitary forces soon arrived, ordering a shutdown and telling people to get back to their homes with warnings of preventive detention and informing that the curfew was still on.
In the few hours that the shops remained open, it was obvious that prices of various commodities, including vegetables, had skyrocketed three to four times, or more.
Hospitals, both private and government, reported shortages of emergency medicines and oxygen in their emergencies. Doctors at Apollo, Nemcare and Downtown hospitals said they were digging into reserves even as serious patients stood at risk.
Private hospitals said after ambulances were attacked by protestors on Thursday, their services stood seriously curtailed. Doctors and para-medics reporting to work from outside were left stranded due to the curfew. The administration was yet to issue curfew passes to emergency workers.
For hundreds of students from Northeastern states who study in other states, soaking the Christmas spirit early may not be possible this time around.
Scores of people — particularly from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur — are stranded in Guwahati for the past few days.
There are neither trains, nor public transport to facilitate their onward journey. Hotels, too, have been hit by scarcities and are finding it difficult to lodge them.
Flight ticket rates have zoomed manifold. A Delhi-Dimapur flight, which costs Rs 5,000- Rs 6,000 on normal days, was priced at Rs 20,000 on Friday.
The Kolkata-Imphal route also saw surge pricing with the normal Rs 3,000- Rs 4,000 ticket priced at between Rs 16,000 to Rs 17,000. The Railways complicated problems by cancelling 40-plus trains and short terminating others at Guwahati.
Transport being arranged for stranded people
Kamrup district authorities said in Guwahati that the transport department would arrange conveyance for stranded passengers from lower Assam’s Bongaigaon Railway terminal and West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri railway station.
Transport will be organized for people to and from Guwahati airport, they added.
The district administration organised food and water for thousands of stranded passengers at the railway station and the inter-state bus stand.