Dhubri/Kokrajhar: "We want to live in our homes and not like animals in relief camps," said a traumatised inmate put up at one of the temporary shelters in the aftermath of Assam violence.
As 60-year-old Gobind Narzary in Kokrajhar voiced these sentiments, People rendered homeless due to clashes between Bodos and minority immigrants alleged lack of sufficient food, drinking water and medicines in relief camps, a charge denied by authorities. They wanted security to be provided for their return home.
Of the three lakh people who have fled their homes, 1,53,000 people have been housed in 118 camps in Dhubri district alone. The violence that entered the eighth day today has so far claimed the lives of 45 people.
"We don`t want to stay in relief camps. We are human beings, we want to live in our homes and not like animals in relief camps where we have to struggle for food," said Narzary, who yearned to go home if security is provided.
42-year old Pramila Goyary of Gossaigaon echoed Narzary`s sentiments.
"Houses have been razed to the ground, our fields have been damaged and our cattle killed. Now the condition in relief camps has made our lives unbearable," Pramila said.
A two-year-old child and a 60-year-old man have also died in two relief camps in Bilasipara in Dhubri district, but the cause of death was yet to be ascertained, official sources said.
"The condition in most relief camps is pathetic with food and drinking water in short supply. We fear there will be more deaths in the days to come from disease," Bilasipara resident Monowar Hussain said.
The district administration faced allegations that only rice and pulses were provided and that too in insufficient quantities.
Dhubri Deputy Commissioner Kumud Kalita denied the allegations and said that sufficient food was being provided.
"There is no shortage of medicine either. Doctors are working round-the-clock among refugees. Additional doctors are arriving from Guwahati to attend to them," Kalita said.
Another inmate Abdul Rashid alleged there was shortage of medicines and there were very few doctors which was causing problems for those who were falling ill in camps.
Jahanuddin Ahmed, a prominent citizen of Dhubri, said
people collected money from vehicles plying on national highways to buy supplies for the refugees.
The refrain among inmates in camps in worst-affected Kokrajhar and Chirang districts in the Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) was one of despondency.
"Most of the inmates are still traumatised over the events of the last week. We thought we will be safe and taken care of in camps, but are faced with several other problems," said 54-year Jhunu Boro who was yet to come to terms with the killing of four youths at her village Joypur in Kokrajhar.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who visited Kokrajhar yesterday to review the situation, has directed the administration to ensure there was no shortage of food, drinking water and medicines for those in relief camps.