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In Assam, teachers brave flood waters, take boats to celebrate Independence day

Students and teachers braved surging waters and rowed boats to hoist the Tricolour to join the country in celebrating the 71st Independence Day on Tuesday, large parts of Assam have been inundated for weeks from heavy monsoon rains that also swelled rivers,

india Updated: Aug 15, 2017 20:42 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam,Assam Floods,Tricolour Hoist
Four teachers and two students assemble to mark Independence Day in Naskara Lower Primary School in Dhuburi, Assam on August 15.(Joydev Roy)

Battling one of the worst floods to hit Assam, students and teachers braved surging waters and rowed boats to hoist the Tricolour to join the country in celebrating the 71st Independence Day on Tuesday.

Leading the celebrations were schools in western Assam’s Dhubri district that is often associated with cattle smuggling and illegal immigrants.

The Dhubri deputy commissioner, like his counterparts elsewhere in Assam, had ordered all government offices and schools to observe I-Day. The order is usually relaxed for schools hit by natural disasters.

But Tazem Sikdar chose to carry on with the tradition and waded through waist-deep water to unfurl the Tricolour at Naskara Lower Primary School in Fakirganj at 7.30am.

“As the headmaster, it was my duty to hoist the flag. We had planned an hour’s programme but had to wrap up quickly because the floodwaters posed a risk, though the two students who joined in are good swimmers,” he said.

Teachers Minazur Rahman, Nripen Rabha and Joydev Roy joined Sikdar. The two students who swam to get to the school were given an extra bar of chocolate each for their zeal. The others, who hoisted the flag but on a higher ground nearby, got a bar each.

The school has around 200 students, all Muslims, from Naskara and four neighbouring villages.

Rahman, who posted photos on Facebook, said his friends told him the prime minister’s office had heard about the celebrations at their school.

Naskara was not the only flood-hit school to celebrate the day in Assam where 30 schools, 14 of them in Dhubri, have been washed away.

Teachers and students made their presence felt at some 400 schools partially damaged by heavy rain and flood waters.

In Dhubri district’s Golakganj, headmaster Bipul Chandra Ray went with the flow, literally. He got his boat out, borrowed two from his friends to host the ceremony and it was a full house.

“I rowed my own boat to bring some students and their guardians. Two of my friends lent their boats to bring three teachers and other students. Some parents were reluctant, but 38 students attended,” Ray told HT.

His 51-student school perhaps must be the only one to have the distinction of celebrating the Independence Day on board three boats.

Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma lauded the teachers and students for their effort. “Big salute to these bravehearts, including teachers and students, who defeated adversity to celebrate I-Day,” he said.

Assam had 51,898 schools as on September 30, 2010, the human resource development ministry data shows. Around 23,000 of these have been hit by floods.

Some schools that have escaped surging waters are serving as relief camps, forcing authorities to extend the summer break that should have ended on July 31.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 20:42 IST