Special Correspondent

College students respond to appeal

Guwahati: Thousands of school and college students and their parents thronged the Republic Day parade ground in Assam’s Dhemaji town on Saturday leaving behind the trauma of a deadly blast during the Independence Day parade in 2004. In the explosion triggered by the United Liberation Front of Assam 13 persons, including 10 children were killed.

The Republic Day passed off peacefully in Assam as people defied the call by the ULFA and three other militant outfits to boycott the celebrations.

Residents of Dhemaji, particularly children, had kept away from the official celebrations of either the Independence Day or the Republic Day.

More than two years after the blast, hundreds of school and college students could not regain their normal mental state despite undergoing counselling by experts from the Defence Institute of Psychological Research, New Delhi. This was arranged for them by the then President Abdul Kalam at the request of local physician Dr. Gayatri Gogoi.

Dhemaji Deputy Commissioner Diwakar Nath Mishra told The Hindu over phone that the students and their parents, including the families of the martyrs in the blast, displayed patriotism by thronging the parade ground in response to an appeal by him.

Prior to the hoisting of the tri-colour by the DC, homage was paid at the martyrs’ column built at the site of the blast on the Dhemaji College field. In Guwahati, after unfurling the tri-colour, Assam Governor Lt. Gen.(retd) Ajai Singh urged the insurgent groups to come for talks with the government within the framework of the Constitution.

“Our doors are always open for a dialogue, so that the problem of insurgency is resolved, and peace is restored in the state,” the Governor said. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was also present.