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Prior nod, 11 pm deadline: Covid curbs ruffle feathers of Assam Bihu committees

The government issued an SOP making it mandatory for the Bihu committees across the state to obtain prior permission for the programmes and wind them up by 11 pm every night.

Published: 12th April 2021 06:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2021 07:00 PM   |  A+A-

File photo of Assamese girls performing Bihu, a traditional folk dance. (AP)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Bihu organising committees in Assam are up in arms against the state government after it had come up with certain curbs given the Covid pandemic.

The government had on Friday issued a standard operating procedure (SOP), making it mandatory for the Bihu committees across the state to obtain prior permission for the programmes and wind them up by 11 pm every night.

The Bihu committees are miffed that the government did not take them into confidence before “unilaterally” issuing the SOP. They have already staged a protest in Guwahati demanding the relaxation of the restrictions.

Kailash Nath Sarma, who is the advisor to Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani Samannay Raksha Samiti, said the government could not force the SOP on the Bihu organisers.

“Bihu programmes begin late evening and continue till the wee hours, so we are seeking relaxations of the SOP. We want that we are allowed to continue with the programmes till 1 am,” Sarma said.

ALSO READ | 'No lockdown': Assam all set to celebrate Bihu with Covid curbs

He also had issues with the guideline that the members of the Bihu organising committees must get themselves tested for COVID. He requested the administration to provide volunteers and ensure the sanitization of the areas of Bihu programmes.

Pranab Goswami, who is the general secretary of “Sadou Asom Bihu Sanmilani Samannayrakshi Samiti”, claimed the SOP was flawed.

“The SOP says the sites of Bihu events must be sanitized twice a day. How is that possible for us? Shouldn’t this be done by the Health department?” Goswami asked.

He described as “strange” the government’s direction that the Bihu organisers must obtain prior permission. He said never before were the Bihu committees required to obtain prior permission to celebrate the “national festival” of the state.

There is widespread resentment over the SOP but the government defended it, stating it was forced to take the measures given the spike in COVID cases in many states.

Cultural events take the centrestage during the month-long Rongali Bihu, celebrated from mid-April. It could not be celebrated last year due to the pandemic.



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