Morung Express News
Dimapur | January 28
At the Dimapur Railway Station, a man sat under the gate giving out paan (betel leaf) and tamul (betel nuts) for free. He had bought the whole load to sell at his shop but landed up giving them out to people stranded at the rail station due to the ongoing bandh in Dimapur.
“It is a loss but how can I charge these people?” asked the paan-tamul shopkeeper. With bandh supporters and volunteers showing little compassion towards commuters stranded at Dimapur Railway Station and Dimapur airport, people decided to come to each other’s rescue.
“We have been travelling for three days. Our children are hungry, we have no money in our pockets and we have no way to go home,” said one of the many stranded commuters who had to spread themselves out at the railway station platform, or outside it. They were traveling in a group of ten, including women and children.
Long, and mostly clueless, discussions ensued among commuters who found no help even from some of the traffic cops who gathered at the railway station taxi stand. Instead, the cops skimmed off some of the ‘free’ paan and tamul being distributed to hungry passengers.
“How much puri can I possibly have from the station?” wondered a seven-month pregnant woman who reached Dimapur in the Kamakhya Express and was slated to reach Ghaspani today.
At the Dimapur airport, similar scenes ensued. Thirsty passengers who arrived this afternoon walking with their luggage towards the highway showed how the bandh left little difference, at least momentarily, between the poor and the rich.
“We have just returned from Thailand. We have no water and we are trying to walk to a friend’s house at 5th Mile,” said one woman traveling in a group of three.
Not all hope was lost though. Bandh volunteers at the airport-highway junction were among the few with humanity enough to organize passing vehicles to get tired passengers home.
Opportunists, on the other hand, found a way to cheat passengers and bandh enforcers alike in some way. “Some private taxis offered to take us to Kohima for an absurd charge of Rs. 3000-4000,” said another woman.
Meanwhile, outside the airport, a calm looking group of people walked around the airport compound. “We are bird watchers!” they said gleefully, when asked about their calm demeanor given the situation. Their group of eight bird watchers arrived today from Mumbai, Chennai and Pune to go to Khonoma as their first bird watching pit stop.
Not a good time for watching birds, alas.
“I dropped the first batch of bird watchers and picked this group up. Some of them also plan to go to Peren, Mon and Mokokchung,” said the organizer of the group who had to plead with several bandh enforcers to get the first batch on their flight out.
This is their first visit to Nagaland.