We reached Barhampur in the morning hours of Sunday. Since the ADI (Assam Development Initiative) concept has popped up, I have been searching for more and more information in village development areas. After E Lango, it was another eye-opener for me.
Mr Joe Madiath, founder and executive director of Gram Vikas, described his life – how he fought against all the odds, how many times he broke down, and how the concept of Gram Vikas has evolved over the time. HE also explained his ‘so-called’ association with the Maoists and how the whole matter had been exploited by some parties. He was a real fighter working on the grass root level without any dependent system (like Panchayat).
Mr. Joe described a lot about the plight of Bangladeshi immigrants of North-East, in a way, praising Mrs Indira Gandhi (I felt somehow). I could not resist myself from unfolding the present scenario of Assam with respect to the Bangladeshi immigrants. While replying to my question, Mr Joe again stressed on the point how the immigrants were treated like animals at that time, women were raped on the street, children were dying out of hunger. He seemed to get emotional on my question; I did not ask anything further.
I remembered the famous (concept changing for myself) story of Mr Homen Borgohain named ‘Ismail Sheikhr Sondhanot(In search of Ismail Sheikh)’ in the Assamese language. May be Mr Borgohain was the first Assamese-Hindu write who wrote describing the plight of the immigrants.
Many a times, we can’t predict the consequences years down the lane. May be Mr. Joe were right at that time, but the current Assamese community is also right with the present scenario. The demographic condition of seven districts of Assam has got changed in the last years. Bangladesh Muslims constitute more than 50% of total population in those districts, a political party has got formed to protect those immigrants- aren’t these alarming?
One awesome scene was to see both E. Lango and Mr Joe in the same stage, one questioning the other. When great people meet, greater things happen [crap liner, my creationJ]
We went to a village and then to Gram Vikas school. Interacting with the students was a memorable moment for many yatris. Many were seeing a village for the first time. Many a times I laughed, but that was the diversity of Jagriti Yatra, which I respect always.
To be frank, there is a dip in the enthusiasm, I sensed among the Yatris. It is a tough journey and you ought to admit that. Also the diversity is so influencing that many are getting confused why they are here in TJY. A rotten potato pollutes the other potatoes- kind of a concept.
Some So far as my group is concerned, we are bonded in a nice way and I am very happy to see that.
[7-00 PM, 05-01-2011, sitting @AC 3-Tier, The Train]