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Saying ‘no’ to bandhs

July 30, 2012

MANY organisations in Assam, mostly student organisations, feel that the best way to draw the government’s attention towards their grievances or to protest against any move of the government, is by calling a bandh [general strike]. This is rather unfortunate. In Assam, a whole generation has grown up under the shadow of bandhs called by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). …

What has become a matter of concern is the local bandh, which covers a particular district or a limited area. …[S]ome organisations calling such bandhs every other day, sometimes over trivial issues.

Bandhs are a huge blow to the state’s economy.

This apart, normal life is thrown out of gear by these bandhs. …

…In 1997, the Kerala High Court ruled in a landmark judgment that forced bandhs were illegal. The decision was upheld in 1998 by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then Chief Justice of India JS Verma. The Gauhati High Court in 2010 declared bandhs “illegal and unconstitutional” as these violate the fundamental right of citizens. But political parties and organisations continue to call bandhs…. Worse, people continue to suffer in silence when all it takes is an FIR that can be filed at the local police station….

… Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi keeps harping that his government is averse to the bandh culture. But by not coming up with a strategic solution to the problem, his government is, in a way, encouraging this bandh culture. …

Thus, if this bandh culture has to end one day, people will have to come out and file an FIR... The government should be keen on good governance and not absolve itself of any responsibility to counter this culture. Most importantly organisations should realise that a 24-hour or a 72-hour bandh can never be a solution to their problems. — (July 28)