Hundreds of people came out in the streets of Silchar in Assam today in support of the campaign against corruption launched nation-wide by India Against Corruption and marched about 4 kilo meters along the heart of the city from below the statue of Shaheed Khudiram at Dakbangla to below the statue of Netajee Subhash Chandra Bose at Rangirkhari point. The march started at about 5pm after a street play by CHORUS, a local drama organization. People were holding placards written in both English and Bengali and shouting slogans. Some of the placards read ‘we condemn smear campign against the Bhushans’, ‘down with vilification campaign against the civil society’, ‘repeal sedition laws and enact the Jan Lokpal’ repeal repressive laws/AFSPA and enact the Janlokpal’, ‘destroy the corruption cartel of big corporations-politicians and bureaucrats’, ‘stop corruption in broad gauge project’ etc.
The march was organized by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) along with other 20 odd local organizations including 1. Asom Majuri Shramik Union, Silchar, Cachar; 2. Krishan Bikash Samiti, Banskandi, Cachar; 3. Centre for Integrated Rural Development (CIRD), Srikona, Cachar; 4. Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Silchar, Cachar; 5. Cachar Jamiot Ulema Hind; 6. Ever green Society, Silchar, 7. Nari Mukti Sangsta, Silchar; 8. Srikona Club, Silchar; 9. Chours, Drama Organisations, Silchar; 10. SC, ST Student Development Forum, Assam University, Silchar; 11. Tarapur G.P. Bachao Committee, Tarapur, Silchar; 12. Student Democratic Forum, Assam University, Silchar; 13. Manipuri Diaspora, Silchar; 14. Mukta Sena (Club), Silchar;15. Swabhiman, Silchar; 16. Minority Student Forum, Assam University, Silchar; 17. COPE (NGO) Silchar; 18. Gono Bikash Sangtha, Assam, Silchar.
The event started at 4pm with a very compact and beautiful street play presented by CHORUS. The play showed how inequality of power and unaccountably of those who wield the rein breed corruption and injustices that do not spare any one and eventually eats up those who initially got benefit from the situation. It was a story of two beggars. One is blind and another is limp. But the limp one was more powerful and got corrupt.
“People of Barak valley came out in streets in hundreds to demands an effective Jan Lokpal at the centre”, said Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, secretary general of BHRPC. He added that corrupt forces of the country were shaken to see the recent outpouring of public outrage against the corruption and they launched smear campaign against the Bhushans and other civil society members in the joint committee formed by the government to draft a Lokpal Bill. “We wanted to send a message that the civil society members do not eed to be distracted by the diversionary tactics as people from the remotest of the corners of the country are with them.”
The joint statement of the organizers said, “In Assam there is already a Lukayukta (State Ombudsman) in existence since 1989 constituted under the Assam Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1985. However, its existence is only in papers. Legally it is ineffective and practically dysfunctional. Corruption in Assam is, by no means, lesser in amount of money involved or its effect in defeating the rule of law and justice than what is happening in the rest of the country. Assam needs to amend its Lokayukta Act in line with the Jan Lokpal Bill, as it will be shaped in its final version, to make it effective.
“Moreover, corruption needs to be fought in other fronts also. A strong and effective Lokpal can only provide deterrence and disincentives for corruption by investigating and prosecuting the corrupt officials and politicians. Thus, it can only check the supply side of corruption. There is a huge demand of corruption from giant corporations that came into existence due to the privatization of essential services and natural resources under the name of liberalization. It is not possible to curb corruption without changing the government policies.”
The march ended at about 7pm at Rangirkhari point.
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Freelance Reporter and Human Rights Defender