DOOMDOOMA, April 18 - People of Tengapani village under Hahkhati Gaon Panchayat in Saikhowa Development Block in Sadiya LAC have alleged that a 490-metre-long bamboo bridge built by the villagers over the river Noa-Dihing has been vandalised by Arunachal Pradesh Police. A top police official, however, has denied the allegation.
Tengapani village is situated around 30 km from Doomdooma, along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Tinsukia district.
The villagers built the bridge by themselves to connect the village with the rest of the world, and dedicated it in the name of the heart-throb of the young generation, Zubeen Garg, who was supposed to inaugurate the bridge on February 29. But the inaugural function was postponed as Zubeen Garg fell seriously ill on February 28.
Though the bridge was yet to be inaugurated formally, people began using it to cross the river to reach Dirak, Kakopothar, Doomdooma and other places.
After the declaration of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the villagers closed the bridge. But on Thursday, the bridge was allegedly destroyed by Arunachal Pradesh Police despite the structure falling within Assam�s territory.
�We had constructed the bridge by cutting off our own bamboos and trees, and labouring hard for months. We named it after Zubeen Garg to express our love and affection for him. But it was destroyed by Namsai police on Thursday,� Bhagyawati Moran, a resident of Tengapani village, told scribes.
�This is not merely a bridge, our sentiments are connected with it. Arunachal Pradesh Police destroyed it, and we now want our bridge reconstructed,� said another resident Rupjyoti Moran.
Manish Moran, another resident added, �There are 120 families in the village, all from the Moran community. They are very poor and dependent either on seasonal cultivation or daily-wage work . Due to lack of proper education, commercial skill and the government�s lackadaisical attitude towards the region, the people here are still living in a deplorable condition.
�There is no hospital, no shop, no higher educational institution in the village, the roads are not concretised and for almost every need, we have to cross the river to go to Dirak, Kakopathar, Doomdooma or Tinsukia. A concrete bridge and a good road is a must for our village,� Manish Moran said.
Sources said the Arunachal Pradesh government wanted to control the movement of the people through proper checkgates to minimise the risk of the spread of coronavirus infection or to counter any inter-state illegal activity during the lockdown.
However, Ankit Kumar Singh, Superintendent of Police of Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh, denied the involvement of Arunachal Pradesh Police in the act.
On receiving information, a team of Assam Police from Saikhowa Police Station visited the area on Thursday.
Condemning the incident, All Moran Students� Union president Arunjyoti Moran and secretary Naba Moran said the Arunachal Pradesh government had no right to vandalise the bridge constructed by the villagers of Assam. The student leaders urged the people to stay at home for their own safety during the lockdown period and demanded the governments of both the states to construct a concrete bridge over the river as soon as possible.