BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
Guwahati, Dec 22: It was a protest demonstration with a difference at Dispur and its end came with a twist. For years, freedom fighters have been running from pillar to post to avail of benefits promised to them, but a callous Dispur consistently turned a deaf ear to their demands. Compelled at last to sit on a hunger strike at Last Gate, nogerian freedom fighters were met by the Chief Minister himself, who promised to fulfill their demands by December 31. However, the fact that matters had to come to such a sorry pass speaks volumes of the Tarun Gogoi government’s record of broken promises, which it is now trying to shake off with assembly elections barely four months away.
The hunger strike was staged by around 25 freedom fighters under the banner of the Asom State Freedom Fighters Association, a body representing 600 odd freedom fighters of the State. During the demonstration, the freedom fighters sang ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram’, the favourite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi.
Moved by this unique protest, the Chief Minister with a host of senior bureaucrats, went to Last Gate and appealed to the freedom fighters to break their fast. Assuring to take immediate steps to fulfil their demands, the Chief Minister promised that by December 31, the problems they have been facing will be solved.
Following Gogoi’s assurance, the freedom fighters called off the hunger strike. The Chief Minister broke their fast by offering fruit juice.
Talking to mediapersons afterwards, Asom State Freedom Fighters Association president Jatin Goswami said, “We will wait till December 31 and see the developments. If the government fails us once again, we will sit on indefinite fast.”
He further added, “The Chief Minister has the will to solve the problems, but the attitude of some bureaucrats is not satisfactory. They keep the files pending.”
Stressing that a section of anti-social elements are trying to destroy the commul harmony in the State as well as the country as a whole, Goswami said, “We have appealed to the Chief Minister to be alert and to act accordingly. As law and order is a State matter, we requested him to take necessary measures.”
The demands of the freedom fighters include issue of identity cards to them to avail of benefits, release of fund allotted for Asom State Freedom Fighters’ Convention, assistance to the families of 1942 martyrs and freedom fighters, one-time fincial assistance to families of poor freedom fighters, expediting and completing the construction of Freedom Fighter Bhavans in every district etc.