Bohag Bihu celebration | A Year Of Hopes and Despairs for Assam

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Assam might have missed its Bohag Bihu celebration amidst the global pandemic of coronavirus, the state still witnessed major twists and turns in 2020.

From politics to its borders, from the glitz of Filmfare Awards to the promises of elections, from the fires of Baghjan to the death of Assam’s most favourite chief minister and lots of more, the state nearly had a rollercoaster ride in the outgoing year.

While the year 2020 started with the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests continuing from final December, the issue of citizenship once again popped up by the end of the year as the state stared at an meeting ballot.

Dossier image of anti CAA rally

Though 2020 started generally enough, life in Assam quickly turned into an out-of-normal experience like the remainder of the world because of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social congregation, celebrations and other festivals took a backseat as people started to handle social distancing, while the world went into an indefinite lockdown to curb the damage induced by the Wuhan-originated Coronavirus.

Assam had to compromise with its most loved Bohag Bihu celebration.

Nearly no place has been spared – and no one. The virus that first emerged nearly a year ago, swept across the world in 2020, leaving havoc in its wake. More than any event in reminiscence, the pandemic has been a global event. At year’s end, promising vaccines offered a glimmer of hope amid a cresting second wave of contagion.

For several weeks following the nationwide strict lockdown, instances of labourers walking for days tired and hungry were witnessed everywhere the country. Many took trucks, tempos and other vehicles, ceaselessly paying each penny they had earned. On the other hand, not everyone reached home. Some dies of exhaustion, others in repeated accidents on highways. Estimates said forceful lockdown devastated the livelihood of over 40 million migrant workers, who play a pivotal role in agriculture and industrial sectors. Many working out of doors the state started to go back for good.

Tarun Gogoi

The disaster did not end here as the state had to lose one of its tallest politicians to COVID-19. With the demise of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, the state missing a unifying leader. Gogoi used to be a treasure for the Congress and used to be celebrated for his ability to keep his sanity amid smart politics and keeping the grand old party well-coordinated with others.

Assam also recorded 1000 other deaths because of Covid 19 in 2020.

Amid the pandemic creating havoc, the state had to face another catastrophe with floods. The Assam floods in July affected nearly 20 lakh people and killed over 110. In Kaziranga National Park too, over 137 animals including 14 one-horned rhinos have died throughout the floods this season.

While the state administration used to be battling massive floods and the COVID-19 looming over the state, Oil India Limited’s oil timely at Baghjan in Tinsukia district, which started to leak on May 27, caught fire on June 9. People in the region had to endure pandemic, floods in addition to the impacts of the oil timely fire.

The Baghjan Mannered Site (dossier photo)

Aside from causing devastation and damaging agricultural land, the oil leakage has impacted nearby water bodies including the Mahuri-Motapung Beel. On the other hand, after 172 days of a disastrous blowout, the flame atop the Baghjan Mannered no 5 used to be successfully doused. In the process of dousing the fire, two firefighters and an electrical engineer missing their lives.

But not all used to be discouraging for Assam in 2020. The year also saw the emergence of new leadership in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and the upward thrust of student leaders.

Ballot fever gripped Assam with BTR polls. Breaking the walls of Hagrama Mohilary’s fort, former Bodo student leader turned politician Pramod Boro became the new BTR chief.

To the positives, all factions of one of the vital dreaded militant outfits of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) surrendered and joined the peace process this year too.

The state also witnessed the spirit of ‘regionalism’ making noise everywhere the region with several regional political parties being formed. The biggest student groups of the state like All Assam Students’ Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad floated their own regional party and student leader Lurinjyoti Gogoi emerged as the new ‘avatar’ of politics of regionalism.

Artists preparing a mural of Akhil Gogoi in the city (dossier)

On the other hand, for peasant leader Akhil Gogoi, the passing year used to be not ideal as he spent the whole year at the back of the bars. He used to be arrested final December throughout the anti CAA protests.

The topic of infiltration and citizenship continued to linger during the year in Assam with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accrod issue remained unresolved.

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The Bodoland/ Assam / India / International

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