Polls deferred: BTAD observes ‘Janta Curfew’


GUWAHATI: It was on March 16, when Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohialry filed his nomination papers for BTC elections leading a huge procession throughout Kokrajhar town, the epicentre of Bodo politics in Assam. Unmindful of Coronavirus outbreak in the country and government’s directives to avoid mass gathering, tens of thousands participated in the rally. However, the election fever got dampened when Assam State Election Commission deferred the elections which were scheduled to be held on April 4, according to the commission’s notification on March 11.

The streets of Kokrajhar which was grappled with election rallies a few days ago transformed completely on Sunday. Along with the rest of the country, Kokrajhar, the capital of BTC too observed ‘Janta Curfew’ appealed by prime minister Narendra Modi to prevent Covid-19 endemic.

“We have seen so many election rallies in last few days. Hagrama Mohilary led the  procession of filing his nomination in front of our home. There were thousands of people and vehicles that day. The same street is empty today,” said a resident of ward number 9 at Kokrajhar town.

On the other hand, Urkhao Gwra Brahma, former president of United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) thanked the residents of Kokrajhar for making the self-imposed curfew a success.

“People are loyal, at the one call of honourable prime minister, every one remained inside the house and made successful the Janata Curfew. Thanks to the Janata, this day will be remembered as Anti – nCoV Day,” Brahma stated in a Facebook post.

Earlier on Friday, he expressed his gratitude to Assam government and election commission for deferring the BTC polls in view of Covid-19.

On the other hand, Kokrajhar Police thanked the residents for making the curfew a huge success. 

Bijni, a major town in Chirang district under Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) witnessed a complete shutdown during the ‘Janta Curfew’. Shops and business establishments remained close in the town on Sunday. The town went to standstill as the public transport was also completely suspended.

“All the ignorance has finally come to an end. People have finally realized that this pandemic is not a mere news material. It’s something more to that, that it is real and very close,” said Harendra Basumatary, a resident of Bijni.

Since the declaration of poll dates for BTC, several election meetings and rallies were organised in Udalguri district by different political parties to show their might. Concerns were raised by different sections about the huge mass gathering despite Coronavirus outbreak. But on Sunday, Udalguri became quiet to observe ‘Janta Curfew’. People remained at home for the day at Tangla, Kalaigaon and other places of Udalguri.

There was no hustle-bustle in Baksa district too. Vehicles were kept off-roads, shops were closed during Janta Curfew. Road connecting Assam with Bhutan at Kumarikata became deserted as the people decided to stay at home as a preventive measure against Coronavirus.

“You can’t imagine that a few days ago poll fever gripped these places. There is no one to be seen on the roads today in most of the places in Baksa. Only the personnel from emergency services are carrying out their duties,” said Ajit Rabha, A journalist from Baksa over phone.