We may never know how many terrorists were killed when the Indian Air Force bombed Balakot, but one number we know for sure is that 157 people died after drinking poisonous liquor in Assam.
As war clouds loomed over India and Pakistan we as a nation have completely ignored this shocking body count in Assam. Over 150 people dead and there was hardly any outrage.
The incident happened on 21 February in the twin districts of Jorhat and Golaghat when the tea garden workers had their usual drink ‘sulai’ but unfortunately on that day the drink was spurious. This eventually resulted in so many deaths.
Among the dead were many couples with children. The tragedy has left behind 37 orphans with no one to look after them.
The child welfare committee (CWC) thinks that the number of orphans is likely to rise further when they complete the survey to assess the total number of children who have been indirectly affected by the hooch tragedy.
Just in Halimara tea estate in Golaghat district, 100 people have died, leaving behind 30 children, all orphaned.
Eleven-year-old Dipali Pujhor and her three siblings became orphans overnight. Both her parents drank almost every evening and both died after consuming the poisonous liquor. Dipali’s youngest sibling is just 5-year-old.
“I have three younger brothers Kundan, Badal and Chandan. My relatives are taking care of them but eventually I’ll have to look after them.”Dipali Pujhor
The Assam government has decided to pay Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased but more than money what these orphans will need is proper care, shelter and education. The district social welfare department and close relatives of the orphans have been entrusted with the task for now.