SUALKUCHI, Feb 6 � The weavers of Sualkuchi recently staged a dharna at the Gandhi Maidan where the Father of the Nation had arrived on January 9, 1946 to visit the silk village. The protesters assembled at the Maidan and shouted slogans like �Save Sualkuchi�.
Addressing the rally, Bhrigu Ram Das, secretary, Handlooms Protection Committee, demanded the Government to provide subsidy to the weavers, master weavers and entrepreneurs at this juncture to save the handlooms which are now on the verge of extinction due to skyrocketing price hike of raw materials like mulberry, tasar and muga silk yarns.
He said the silk traders were hiking their rates and this has increased the cost of the products. But the producers were deprived of recovering cost of the products and had suffered due to distress sales. As a result, the number of looms have decreased since the last few months. The secretary criticised the Government for allegedly paying no heed to the grievances of the weavers of the village.
In his address, Tirtha Nath Kakoti, president of the protection committee, criticised the Government for playing the divide-and-rule policy, giving silk yarns to some weavers without taking steps to solve the basic problems of the handloom industry. Lahkar Das, a senior member of the Sualkuchi Trust Silpi Santha, expressed concern over non-disclosure of the reports of the 15-member delegation sent to Bangalore and Mysore to study the cause of price hike of mulberry silk yarns.
The rally was also addressed by Harmohan Baishya, seasoned weaver, Bhaba Haloi, the treasurer of CITU, Kamrup district and Dinesh Das, president, Sangrami Krishak Shramik Sangha. They criticised the role of Himanta Biswa Sarma, local MLA, and called upon the people to launch massive movements for protecting the cultural heritage of the silk industry of Sualkuchi, the pride of Assam.
Later, the protesters marched towards the Sulkachi BDO�s office where they handed over a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister to the BDO, Sualkuchi. Receiving the memorandum, Deba Kumar Misra, BDO, Sualkuchi, admitted the gravity of the demands in the memorandum and assured the demonstrators of handing it over to the Deputy Commisioner, Kamrup.
Through the memorandum, the Handlooms Protection Committee demanded silk yarns at subsidised rates to the weavers, master weavers and entrepreneurs on the basis of the looms they possess, procurement of the finished products at reasonable rates through government agencies, installation of powerful twisting plant at Sualkuchi, setting up of a weavers� training centre, inclusion of weavers for benefits under the public distribution system, free electricity supply to weavers, master weavers, etc. The committee also demanded a master plan to preserve the heritage of Sualkuchi.