Women Blew Conch-shells to welcome Swayamsevaks
Massive Relief Work by RSS in Cyclone Affected Sunderbans
Hingalganj, June 5: It was anightmarish experience for 50-odd swayamsevaks who weredesperate to reach Hingalganj jeti ghat criss-crossing otherinaccessible riverine villages in the Sunderbans after Ailacyclone battered and ravaged the Bengal’s famousarchipelago of islands on May 25. The rivers Kalindi andRaimangal were turbulent and wind speed was not less than 60km per hour even 24 hours after the cyclone lashed theSunderbans.
They hired a large vessel with acapacity to carry about 6 tonnes relief materials fordistributing among cyclone hit villagers separated from themain land. Risking lives, they finally reached Jetighat,Hemnagar, Mandirghat and Parghumta villages where thousandsof marooned villagers awaiting government relief past threedays since the Aila blown away their hamlets. They had nofood and drinking water during the past 72 hours.
Indeed, the marooned villagers hadlost all hopes to survive as the area remained inaccessibledue to swelling of Dasha river following the cyclone. Theteam of swayamsevaks, led by North 24 Pargana zillakaryabaha Shri Sukumar Vaidya, was the first batch ofvolunteers to reach them braving nature’s fury.
Initially starving villagers tookswayamsevaks as state government relief employees andstarted to hurl abuses.
However, when the distressedvillagers discovered that they were RSS volunteers andrisked their lives to bring them relief materials, they weresimply over-joyed and begged pardon for their initialmistake. Women blew conch-shells to welcome the swayamsevaksin their mud houses. Packets of dry food, water pouches,milk powder and clothes brought by swayamsevaks weredistributed with full cooperation of the distressedvillagers.
This is the same area where thelocal CPI(M) MLA Gopal Gayen from Hingalganj was roughed-upand the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee receivedabuses from relief deprived villagers on June 2. Thedistressed villagers in Hingalganj block in the riverineSunderbans made it amply clear that even in misery they hadmore respect for honest and hard-working swayamsevaks of theRSS than callous elected communist leaders strutting aboutin the corridors of power.
Nearly a week after cyclone Aila hitWest Bengal’s coast, thousands of people are stillstranded in the Sunderbans. People with boats have left, butmany have no choice but to stay. The human misery istelling. “I have nothing left. Utensils, pans, plates andglasses. Even the three bags of rice, we had saved from thelast harvest, are gone. It would have been good had we beengiven a house to live in by the administration. What else dopoor people have, money? My daughter has to be married off,but there’s nothing left,” Purnima Mondal, resident ofDakshin Yogeshganj near Bangladesh boder said. The villagershere are facing an added misery as robbers from Bangladeshare raiding border villages as they left their homes andsheltered in relief camps.
The RSS has a well-knit organizationin the Sunderbans under north and south 24 Parganas. Thereare ‘one teacher-one school’ establishments in 90villages. Swayamsevaks of the two neighbouring districtshave set up 32 relief camps and feeding about 30,000 cyclonehit hapless villagers daily since 26 May. The worst affectedare the five blocks, Hasnabad, Najat, Sandeshkhali I &II and Hingalganj. Here 50 sakhas are affected due tolarge-scale inundation. Even after flooding, swayamsevaksare running two relief camps in Basantitala where cookedfood is supplied to nearly 4,000 villagers daily.
Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, DrManmohan Vaidya, visited several relief camps in theaffected areas in Hasnabad block in north 24 Parganas onJune 3 and took a stock of the grim situation prevailingthere. He was told that the RSS volunteers braved the stormand rains and started distributing relief to distressedvillagers at Basanti, Sonakhali, Kultuli, Gosaba,Pathankhali, Hemnagar, Mandirghat within six hours after theAila lashed villages in the Sunderbans on May 26. As thevillagers have lost everything and have no means to cookrice, the meals are being cooked at the RSS relief centresin the main land and then transported by country boats torelief camps set up by sawyamsevaks in far-flung Sunderbanislands daily.
This mamoth relief operationrequires huge amount of money. Shri Vaidya appealed topeople all over the country to come forward at this timecrisis and shoulder some social responsibility by donatingliberally to organizations like Bastuhara Sahayata Samiti,RSS Samaj Seva Bharati, and Friends of Tribal Society.
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