GUWAHATI, July 23: With a view to taking various student organizations, political parties and other organizations who call bandhs to law, Khumtai MLA Mrinal Saikia has appealed to Chief Minister Sarbandanda Sonowal to legislate a suitable law against bandhs.
The MLA has also made a similar plea to Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Gowami to call a special session for such legislation. The MLA, who is also the chairman of the Act Implementation Committee of the Assam Legislative Assembly, feels that it is high time Assam enacted a law to prohibit various organizations from calling unconstitutional and illegal bandhs in the State.
In fact, the MLA had raised this issue during the last Budget Session of the State Assembly in regard to, what he said, unconstitutional bandhs called by student organizations, political parties and other organizations. “In its reply the Home Department informed me that the review and reconstitution of the Assam Prohibition and Prevention of Bandh Bill, 2017 is in process and a draft of this Bill has been prepared,” the MLA said, and added: “I, therefore, pray before you to kindly take necessary steps to enact the Bill in the next Assembly session.”
The MLA further said: “The Gauhati High Court has passed a number of judgments and orders against bandhs while disposing a PIL (54/2012) asking the government to take expeditious steps to enact a law to prevent unconstitutional bandhs called by various organizations in the State.”
In order to make introduction of the Bill possible, the MLA has requested the State Assembly Speaker to call a special session for the discussion on bandhs in the State.
Replying to a query from the MLA on bandhs in the last Budget session, the State Home Department had let him know that the State had to suffer Rs 1028.50 crore in as many as 17 Assam bandhs in 2017. The year also saw as many as 18 local bandhs, 42 district bandhs and four BTAD bandhs and 184 national highway blockades in the State.
Saikia is skeptical of the State Government not taking the bandh culture seriously: “The government should serve notice against organizations calling bandhs and seek compensation for the loss being incurred. However, this is followed in the State,” he rued.