Lives nipped in the bud - young victims in terror-ravaged Assam (Feature)

November 11th, 2008 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Nov 11 (IANS) Come Nov 14, India will celebrate Children’s Day coinciding with the birthday of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. But the children in terror- ravaged Assam may not be in a mood to celebrate as violence continues to take young lives in the state.The vulnerability of children was starkly exposed when the Oct 30 serial blasts killed four-year-old Moromi Sarma. The little one battled death for four days. Moromi succumbed to injuries at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Nov 3.

“Moromi was a bundle of energy and spirit. I still cannot believe that my daughter is dead,” said Moromi’s mother Sunita, 28.

“Why did they kill my daughter? I had a dream for her to be a doctor. But her death ended everything in my life,” said Sunita, whose husband was also killed in the blast.

Death claimed Moromi and her father Sagar, a carpenter in Guwahati, when he was taking her back from her school, Dispur Government Junior Basic School, at Ganeshguri, one of the areas bombed here.

At least 81 lives were lost and over 300 injured when 12 coordinated blasts rocked Guwahati and western districts of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon Oct 30 afternoon.

Moromi was the only child victim Oct 30. But many like her have been killed in the decades of violence in the state.

The worst incident of violent death of children happened in 2004, when a group of 17 school-goers were killed in a bomb explosion at an official Independence Day function at Assam’s Dhemaji town Aug 15.

“That was a horrific incident. The militants purposely targeted the Independence day function as a lot of school children generally participate in such events. It is sad that because of violence, Assam is losing many young lives. It is a pity that we have failed to save our children,” lamented popular assamese poet Samir Tanti.

“It seems that the state has no future, as its children are not safe. I ask the government to ensure safety of our children,” said Guwahati-based sociologist Anima Guha.

The deaths of Moromi and several others have shocked the state and most of the schools are in no mood to celebrate Children’s Day.

“Nehru ji had dreamt of providing better lives for Indian children. But in Assam we’re losing our children to violence. The death of Moromi has shocked us a lot and we will have a low key Children’s Day function in our school this time,” said Anima Das, the headmistress of Dispur Government Junior Basic School, where Moromi was a student.

Purabi Pathak, a school teacher in Guwahati, said “I am a mother too. My heart goes out to Moromi’s mother who lost her daughter in the blast. How long will the terrorist violence continue?”

There are no official estimates about the number of children killed in either insurgency or ethnic riots in Assam.

Assam has long been a cauldron of violence triggered by insurgency and ethnic clashes, since the state’s first rebel group, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) was formed in 1979.

“An estimated 25,000 people have been killed and hundreds more maimed for life since 1979,” said a senior state police official.

According to figures available with the Assam police, as many as 423 explosions had occurred in the state between 2002 and January 2008.

A total of 928 civilians have been killed in these explosions, mostly triggered by ULFA, added the official.

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