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ASTEC launches state-wide prog against superstition from Udalguri
 KALAIGAON, Jan 11 - A district-level one-day consultation programme as a part of state-wide awareness campaign with the theme ‘Sanskar Manuhe Manuhor Babe’ was organized recently at Udalguri as announced by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The programme was organized by Udalguri district administration under the aegis of Assam Science Technology & Environment Council (ASTEC), Guwahati and was held at the conference hall of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Udalguri on January 10 at 11.30 am.

This was the first of the state-wide awareness programme to be launched in all the districts of Assam and to be implemented by the ASTEC. All the heads of various government departments, Principals and Headmasters, a few selected students of colleges, officials of various social organizations, NGOs attended the consultation programme, which was presided over by Prakash Ranjan Gharphalia, Deputy Commissioner, Udalguri.

The basic purpose of the consultation was to raise public concerns about the menace of practising some superstitious beliefs leading to social unrest. Superstitious beliefs related to witchcraft, agriculture, health, snake and dog bites etc., prevailing even in the educated societies, not to speak of common villagers, were also covered in the consultation. The agenda was to chalk out probable strategy for awareness and sensitization through a participatory process.

Tridip Daimari, Speaker, BTC assembly inaugurated the consultation programme. He emphasized the need for removing blind faith and superstitions which had caused serious concern among people in the state, specially in Udalguri district. He requested women and mothers to come out to join the crusade against social evil practices.

Udalguri SP Ripul Das, attending the programme as a distinguished guest, spoke on how to prevent spreading of superstitious rumours. Citing his personal experience as a police officer in a few incidents in Assam, Das wondered how such people after getting themselves involved in merciless killing of innocent people, including murder of two Assamese boys in Karbi Anglong, never repent for their crime.

Joydeep Baruah, HoD, Environment Division, ASTEC attending the programme as the chief guest, said that the common people have an important role to play while fighting against superstitious beliefs. He specially requested mothers of the society to keep a vigil and to take a leading role in creating awareness in respective homes. He said that people must be very careful while speaking or commenting on sensitive social issues. He explained the differences between faith and blind faith. People must consult doctors instead of going for tantriks or illiterate self-styled village medical practitioners. According to him, it had been unfortunate to see so many educated people in the society believing in superstitions. He also spoke on blind faiths on snake and dog bites, agriculture and horticulture etc.

Mamoni Saikia, secretary, Mahila Samata Society of Assam and a noted activist against witch-hunting in Assam also addressed the meeting. She narrated how difficult it was to create awareness against blind faith, superstition and witch-hunting. The consultation programme was also addressed by Kinkini Borah, secretary and Jayanta Barhma, Legal Adviser of District Legal Service Authority, Udalguri; Bhabani Rabha from Goalpara, Jayanta Das, District Coordinator, Aryabhatta Science Centre, Udalguri etc.

In his concluding speech, Deputy Commissioner, Gharphalia thanked ASTEC for launching the state-wide programme from Udalguri district.

“Superstition is nothing but baseless thoughts,” he said. He requested people to work for the spread of scientific temperament among boys and girls from school days. He also appealed to people never to take laws into own hands.

Lilika Barman, Child Protection Officer and Nilakshi Baishya AC Udalguri anchored the proceedings of the consultation programme.

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