BARPETA, July 7 � The age-old demand for a subdivision in the eastern part of Barpeta with Sarthebari as its headquarters has gained momentum these days. Thousands of people gathered in front of the Office of the Circle Officer, Sarthebari Revenue Circle on Tuesday morning and observed a sit-in demonstration demanding constitution of the subdivision at the earliest.
The agitating people shouted slogans demanding all-round development of the eastern part of Barpeta district, establishment of a subdivision in this area with Sarthebari as headquarters and protested the negligence of the Government towards this area.
The agitation called by the Sarthebari Subdivision Demand Committee was assisted by Paka Sarukshetri Unnayan Samiti. Almost all the organisations, associations and political parties joined the demonstration, which gave the five-decade-old demand a new dimension. Representatives of the Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Asom Gana Parishad, Asom Mahila Parishad, All India United Democratic Front, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, All Assam Students� Union, Bengali Yuba Chatra Parishad, All Bodo Students� Union Assam Bell Metal Artisans Association, Assam Brass Metal Artisans Association and Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Parishad participated in the demonstration. Notable among the local organisations who joined the demonstration were Majdia Gadeshali Unnayan Samiti, Bharati Adhyayan Chakra Sarthebari, Haridev Dham, Madhabdev Satra Parisalana Samiti Gomura, Panchagram Raas Puja Committee, Bamundi Kali Puja Committee, Baithabhanga Puja Committee, Hand Cart Puller Association, Passenger Vehicle Driver And Workers Association, Sarthebari Natun Bazar and Puran Bazar Byabasai Santha and Panchagram Pragati Sangha.
The desire of the people was well established as they responded spontaneously and overwhelmingly to the call of a bandh by the demand committee. All the offices, banks, educational institutions and business establishments remained closed for the day and there was no traffic on the road in the vast area. There was a rush in the Citcle Office campus as people from far-flung areas, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and political affiliation moved towards the office, to press the Government for their demand.
The demonstration, led by Banikanta Bhuya and Surendra Nath Deka, both working presidents of the Subdivision Demand Committee and well assisted by Prahlad Talukdar, Haramohan Barman and Umesh Deka, secretaries of the committee, was addressed by several leading persons of the locality.
Chittranjan Barman, secretary of the AGP Barpeta District Committee, Mahipal Boro, working president of the ABSU, Mahananda Datta Sarkar, president of the Bengali Yuba Chatra Parishad, Harekrishna Talukdar, a BJP leader, Dandi Barman, working president of KMSS Batpeta district committee, Haramohan Barman, retired teacher and CPI (M) leader Delowar Hussain, renowned actor and social worker, Jahuruddin Ahmed Congress leader, Harendra Nath Deka, retired head master and social worker Kamruz Zaman, teacher and Rita Deka, chairperson, Assam State Marketing Corporation addressed the gathering.
They alleged that the respective Governments at the Centre and the State have been treating this area, comprising Chenga, Sarukshetri, Paka and Betbari mouzas stepmotherly and this is the reason of its backwardness. They informed that the proposed subdivision fulfils all the criteria required for a subdivision such as population, a town, development blocks, police station and land area. But it is a matter of regret, that it has not materialised only due to the lack of goodwill on the part of the Government. They warned that if the Government fails to fulfil the genuine demand of the people, a more vigorous movement will be undertaken in the days to come.
A memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister of the State was handed over to the Circle Officer, Sarthebari Revenue Circle, narrating the legitimacy, requirements and history of the demand for formation of the subdivision. The memorandum signed by Dr Krishnaballav Deka president, Banikanta Bhuyan and Surendra Nath Deka, working presidents and Prahlad Talukdar, Haramohan Barman and Umesh Deka secretaries of the subdivision demand committee, stated that Sarthebari with its glorious history of the Peasants Movements in 1894 and famous for its brass and bell metal works is one of the oldest towns in Assam. It is the centre of Sarukshetri, Paka, Betbari and Chenga mouzas. The area surrounding it, is lagging behind in terms of development. This area with three development blocks, two police stations and more than four lakh population comprising four mouzas deserves an administrative subdivision. It alleged that though the people of this area have been demanding the Government since 1970 for a subdivision, the government has not properly attended to the demand. The people will not sit silently, if they are deprived for long and are well prepared to go to any extent.
Acknowledging the memorandum, the Circle Officer, Sanjib Bora informed that he has already sent a report to the Government in this regard following the directives of the Government. He stated that the report is very positive and favourable and expressed the hope that if the decision for a subdivision is considered logically, there is no scope to deprive Sarthebari.
Sarthebari was accorded the status of a town way back in 1955. But the condition of the town as well as the surrounding areas is beyond description. There is no trace of any kind of development any where in this area. The people of this area believe that the establishment of a subdivision here will relieve them from their woes considerably. So they placed the demand before the Government way back in 1970. Though the Government has been establishing such administrative units in less important areas than Sarthebari, it has not been considered for 45 years. Earlier, the demand was also limited within a section of the elite people. Besides, there were some differences between the members of the political parties and nationalist organisations. But the matter is different this time. All political parties and organisations have been united under the umbrella of Sarthebari Subdivision Demand Committee and are speaking in unison. If the Government fails to understand the language of the democratic movement, it will have to bear the responsibility of more intense movements in the days to come, the leaders said.