Guwahati diary

Express News Service
No trace of abducted ONGC employee Lt G Two weeks have gone by, but there is no information on the whereabouts of one of the three ONGC workers kidnapped by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). The two others were rescued amid a gunfight between security forces and the militants in Nagaland’s Mon district on April 24. According to the police, Ritul Saikia, a junior technician of the ONGC is held by the militants somewhere along the India-Myanmar border. Junior engineering assistant Alakesh Saikia and junior technician Mohini Mohan Gogoi, who were kidnapped along with Ritul on April 21, have been rescued. The three were abducted from the site of an oil rig in Assam’s Sivasagar district.

Ban sought on spitting, tobacco consumptionThe Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam has sought a ban on spitting in public. It has also called for a prohibition on the sale and consumption of pan, gutka and tobacco. In a letter to the chief secretary, it pointed out that last year, amid the pandemic, the government had banned spitting in public places and made it a punishable offence with penalty for violators. It had also prohibited the consumption and sale of smokeless tobacco products in public places. “The ICMR had appealed to the general public to refrain from consuming the smokeless tobacco product and spitting in public places during the Covid epidemic. According to WHO, chewing smokeless tobacco and areca nut (supari) increases saliva production and enhances the urge to spit repeatedly,” the forum wrote.

Citizens suffer as prices of essentials skyrocketAmid surging Covid-19 cases, skyrocketing price of groceries has added to the misery of the Guwahati residents.  The prices of many items have almost doubled over the last two weeks and the residents are now venting their anger in public. The members of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and its sister organization Jatiya Yuba Shakti chose to vent their anger in a slightly different manner. Proclaiming that the Department of Food and Civil Supplies is dead, they took out a funeral procession carrying a mock bier. The bier was later immersed into the Brahmaputra. The AJP said the department is all but non-existent during these trying times. 

Puppetry to spread Covid awarenessIn an attempt to create mass awareness on Covid-19, the city-based Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust (ARMT), in its collaborative initiative with the UNICEF Assam, has produced four string puppetry videos of four to eight minutes each. Three of these are made on the storyline of creating general awareness on the pandemic and largely shared by ARMT’s YouTube channel. Popular Assamese actress Chetana Das has given the voice over in one of the videos, which went viral on social media. The ARMT has urged people to share the videos to help spread awareness among people.

prasanta mazumdarOur correspondent in Guwahati prasantamazumdar@newindianexpress.com