Wednesday, May 30, 2012



I was halfway into a reverie within which many parallel sequences of events were in speedy motion. The re-enactment of the viva voces of the recent final examinations, the vivid 3D action scenes from the movie, The Avengers and the risky late night drive from Shillong were a fleeting integral. In amidst these accelerated flashes were phases of tranquility consisting of parts of the many hours spent with Simone, and the imagined awareness of a balmy breeze. And all of a sudden, these gave way to tumultuous scenes of terrorizing violence.

Against six humans inside a car,
There were hundreds outside, and they
Waged a war and nobody cared who died!
They had spars, and they dared and tried,
To make the largest scars, with fury they eyed;
Rang bells to celebrate as the unfortunate cried.
Conflagration in their inebriated minds,
Would they leave that untried?
With every hoot and remorseless howl,
Tyrannical hatred in their every scowl;
And brute force in every killer hurl,
Of stones and bricks, with a fetish snarl;
Shattered the glasses on every side,
Those battered with rocks many inches wide;
Dented all the metal and thus they took pride,
Attacked to unsettle and shove the car down upside!
The occupants were hurt and lot more scared,
For such barbarians they were unprepared;
Overwhelmed to unwillingly surrender,
To the sudden savagery, undeclared!
Chances were slender that they would be spared,
Though the women folk pleaded for mercy;
Never in their dreams could they fancy,
The amusement caused by the rampancy!
The catcalls, whistles and buzz of cheers,
Defied and derided their despairing tears;
Rather the burly murderous men,
Threw brutal blows in multiples of ten;
The very morning they mortally wounded many men,
It was fiendish pleasure in doing it again and again...

It was a bad idea and I knew it all along. Simone too urged me not to go. I walked from my hostel to Bhangagarh, when I realised I did not have my cell phone with me, walked back and forth that distance to board a city bus to Jalukbari and then trod the way to Amingaon across the Saraighat bridge to meet my parents waiting there.

That morning in Barpeta, my parents hemmed and hawed about the journey. They did not like the idea but they gave in to it. At 11 AM, they were at Amingaon.

At Dalgaon Tea Estate, my uncle and his wife and son were waiting for us. They too had this disinclination for making the trip but they relinquished any reluctance on the face of our bravado in uneventfully arriving at their place at 1 PM.

25th May was an Assam Bandh declared by multiple tribal organisations because they protested their inability to be eligible for being school teachers based on merit and wanted to force in the idea that their eligibility everywhere is their caste itself, irrespective of unachieved qualifying marks! We had no intention of defying their designs but our urgency was that we wanted to be part of the 1 year anniversary of my little cousin sister and that was drawing us towards destiny.

We picked our uncle’s family and I was ready to drive using the National Highway, when we saw a hand waving at us. A hefty person with a husky voice confidently declared, “Don’t take the Highway. There is some disturbance ahead. Instead use this diversion. I have come that way.” I wish I had not listened to his false assertions.

We took that village road and at the end of it, before it merged with the Highway at Orang, we saw a gathering. At the same time, many sulky eyes in that mob spotted our car. Without any warning, they charged at us from all directions and began pelting stones. As I saw people jump in front of the car, I had no choice but to halt it partly out of fear and due to concern that someone could be hurt. That was the point wherefrom began the extreme onslaught. They used large bamboo sticks, canes and rods to inflict greatest damage. Many of them lifted huge rocks and hurled them with murderous intent. As I tried to guard myself with my arms from the splinters and stones, I imagined that those people were teeming with rage, but what I saw surprised me. Many of them were deriving sadistic pleasure from it and had sardonic smiles plastered on their faces. I heard whistles and hoots with every hit they made on our car as if it were a game to them.

I was numbed for some time trying to come in terms with what was happening. I felt no pain though I was repeatedly being hit with stones. As I attempted to re-wear the spectacles displaced by the blow of an attacker, I felt sticky fluid in my fingers. I saw that it was blood. At the same time, other than the constant thudding of stones, I heard the burly assailant screaming at the top of his voice at me, “Get out of the car and I will teach you some lesson”

He was vociferous with his slang usage and kept on bellowing his bloodthirsty intentions. From being stupefied with horror, I was slowly mustering courage and the constant bashing from this aggressor, both verbal and mechanical, made me recover from my shell-shock and inaction. I started my car again. I saw many policemen ahead of me and slowly drove towards them. After gently manoeuvring the car for a hundred metres, the premises of a police station offered haven. 

As I dismounted the tattered car, I could gauge the mammoth loss resulting from the imprudent temerity of our party. I also shuddered to think that our lives were at stake and loss of anyone could have unfolded at any time in that harrowing quarter of an hour. I had just seen the ugly face of humanity.

A few policemen came to the succour of our injured party. I saw that every one of us had suffered bruises and abrasions. As I sat on a bench with the rest of us, some of the policemen were talking to us. From them, we came to know that this was a road blockade by a Bodo militant organization. We were unaware of that. They had been destroying vehicles from the early morning. A few hours ago, a father and a son travelling in a new Ritz were badly bashed up till they were unconscious and bleeding profusely from their scalps. Their car was awfully decimated. I could see its remains beside our own car. A truck driver was similarly assaulted and the mob looted his truck and stole its battery. A completely crumpled motorcycle was also in view. The rider was in hospital and they said that he was in a very bad state. Even a bicyclist was not spared. He was mauled till his breaths were laboured and he was also shifted to the hospital.

I was listening to these enthusiastic accounts by the policemen. What was glaring was the fact that everything was happening right in front of that police station and the unruly crowd perpetrated the rampage in defiance to over 50 policemen having fire power, the latter almost impotently accepting the carnage. Even then I would not deny that our lives were saved by the opportune presence of that police station.

Today, a few days later, as I recollect the incident, I feel sad about many things. This has been a lesson for life.

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