More than one hundred administrative officials have been suspended in India's north-eastern state of Assam for taking part in student-led agitation against migrant workers.
GV AND SV Indian oil pipeline in Assam. Deserted pumping station (3 shots)
GV PAN Jasho Danga refugee camp. west Bengal border area
GV Refugees in camp carrying water, cooking, and cutting wood (5 shots)
SV AND CU Refugees being checked by doctor (4 shots)
GV AND SV Tea plantation workers in Assam (4 shots)
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Background: More than one hundred administrative officials have been suspended in India's north-eastern state of Assam for taking part in student-led agitation against migrant workers. On Thursday (17 April) the Press Trust of India (PTI) also reported that more state officials would soon be suspended for supporting the agitation. The civil unrest, which began three months ago, has resulted in more than eighty deaths and fifteen thousand people being made homeless.
SYNOPSIS: The annual flow of five and a half million tonnes of crude oil from the state to the rest of India was stopped by the students last December (1979). Bus-loads of volunteers from all over Assam have picketed the oil installations in the drive to expel Bengalis, Bangladeshis and Nepalese some of whom have been in Assam since 1951.
Some 1800 Bengalis have arrived in this refugee camp at Jasho Danga in the border district of neighbouring West Bengal. They have been driven there from Assam by the tension and fear built up by student demands that all foreigners be expelled from Assam. Here they are houses in temporary huts made of bamboo and clay. For most of them there is very little future in sight. West Bengal wants Assam to take them back, but Assam is not interested. Their only means of support is assistance given by the state or charitable organisations. Some are forced to sell bundles of firewood in the local market.
The camp at Jasho Danga was opened in mid-November, 1979, when the exodus from Assam started. Hot winds blow throughout the day across the parched land. The refugees have been suffering sun-stroke, diarrhoea, measles and chicken pox. The health centre is near the camp but delays over diagnosis brings the threat of a spreading epidemic.
Tea is another commodity which could well be hit by the exodus of refugees. Assam's tea plantations employ a large number of Nepalese workers.There have also been demonstrations against migrant workers in Manipur State where police firing killed a student on Friday (18 April). And on the same day, Assam gave the Indian government permission to use troops to keep order in the troubled region.