Assam’s Jokai, Khanikar villages cherish a transformed life with peace

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dibrugarh (Assam), July 26 (ANI): People in Jokai and Khanikar villages in upper Assam that was once affected by militancy and violence, are now enjoying peace.

A visit to these villages astonishes when one notices how prevalence of peace has transformed local residents’ lives and the way they feel about their lives.

Lush green vegetation flanks both sides of the road leading to Jokai and Khanikar villages, 12 kilometres from Dibrugarh, in the fertile riverbeds of Brahmaputra River.

Tea gardens here influence local people’s lives in a big way and also the overall local economic activity.

Looking at the idyllic rural life, it is hard to believe that the region was recently a stronghold of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Not very long ago, militant groups’ activities had brought development work in the region to a standstill.

“Earlier ULFA’s activities were a routine feature. Now, militants are no longer there and the search operations by the Army have come to a stop. We are leading normal and peaceful life,” said Nobin Sonowal, a resident in Jokai Village.

Militancy had created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear here. But the villagers, who dared not venture out of their homes due to the fear of militants Now people work happily in their fields.

The forest between Khanikar and Jakoi villages, which was called “Black forest” due to the presence of ULFA cadres, is now the “Jakoi Botanical Garden cum Germplasm Centre”.

With improved road connectivity, it has become a popular picnic spot.

“The botanical garden is one of its kind in Assam. The forest department has undertaken the project to grow medicinal plants. Tourists and students come here for educational purpose,” said Akhtar Hussain, another resident of Jokai Village.

The villages are showing rapid progress. Today, they have improved schools and healthcare facilities.

Several government-affiliated schemes under the Panchayati Raj have helped the village folk as well.

“Now, there is peace. We have new roads, schools and many other things. Life has changed. Primary Health Centre and electricity are available as well. Job cards have not been not been given to all, but some people have received them and have benefited,” said Pramod Sarma, another resident of Jokai Village.

“With the arrival of Panchayati Raj, development is taking place. There are many beneficiaries of Government schemes who have received house loans. A reservoir for clean drinking water has been built as well,” said Pradeep Saikia, a resident of Jokai Village.

Anandar Saikia, 58, a wooden craftsman, whose business was declining because of activities of militants is glad that things have changed.

He says good times are back due to normalcy and development of the village infrastructure. Sales have gone up. Saikia has also started supplying his decorative showpieces to other parts of Assam and neighbouring states.

“I have borrowed money from the government and started selling my products in other states. It’s a very lucrative profession and I am imparting training to young boys and girls. I am happy with my work,” said Anandar Saikia of Khanikar Village.

Today, Jokai and Khanikar villages demonstrate how peace can change the quality of lives of the people. By Vashipem Kamodang (ANI)

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