Saturday, 21 December 2019

Guwahati to Delhi: Part 1: Through Curfew, no internet, CAB, CAA protests and Beyond


Selfie at India Gate

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today is 20th December 2019 and the internet in Assam has finally been restored after nine days. Thank God, it felt like forever. The internet connection in Assam was suspended on 11th December 2019. According to the government it was done to "prevent" the circulation of "hoax" that might further agitate the people who are protesting throughout the state of Assam and other parts of India against the new "Bill", CAB or Citizen Amendment Bill that has been passed by the government and now has taken the iteration of an "Act" i.e. Citizen Amendment Act or CAA. Also, curfew was on implementation from 11th to 17th December 2019 to prevent the protests or any kind of violence or misshaps. Between the protests, the curfew, and suspended internet I had to go to Technology Bhawan, Delhi on 15th December 2019 urgently for some work. So, I will have breakdown the events date wise and this article into two parts to make it easy for you and me both otherwise this article is going to turn into a mess. LOL. So here we go....

11th December 2019
I had been on a discussion with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for the last two months. On 11th December 2019 (Wednesday) we had a telephonic conversation and they wanted to meet me in person next Monday i.e. 16th December 2019. Now there are only two viable options to go to Delhi i.e. by air or by train. But since people have already started the protest against the implementation of the new "Act" so there was a high probability of trains getting canceled. The only way left was to go by flight. Without wasting any time I rang an old client of mine that I used to know from my previous job to book round tickets. It was informed to me that the tickets available at "special price" are 100% non-refundable in case of a cancellation. Looking at the situation I ended up buying the tickets at a much higher price because I believe in "50% of something is better than 100% of nothing". The tickets were booked. The departure was on 15th December 2019 and the return was on 18th December 2019. Everything was going well and I was supposed to pay the fare later in the evening and that is when the disaster happened. The protest became more aggressive. There were road blockages all around the city and the army was deployed in the Guwahati city. There was no way I could make it to the travel agency. In a normal situation, one would transfer the money online and collect the tickets online right? But that is when the government decided to suspend the internet. It was supposed to be a 24 hours suspension of the internet but well you know the rest. Later in the evening, another shock awaited i.e. curfew which means you cannot go out of your house. The tension was building up.

12th December 2019
The internet was still down and the curfew was still on. I called the travel agency if it was possible to cancel the tickets. The owner of the agency suggested not to do so as it would cause loss to me and he did not want to see me lose my hard-earned money. Instead, he asked me to wait and to hope for the best. I agreed to him. Later that day the broadband internet connections were restored but the curfew was still on.

13th December 2019
On 13th December 2019, I woke up to a piece of good news that the curfew has been withdrawn from 9 AM to 1 PM. I did not want to miss this opportunity. I rang the person from the travel agency and he asked me to meet him at 11 AM. There were huge crowds in every ATM but luckily found one with only 2 people in line. I withdrew the cash for the tickets and went to the office of the travel agency. The person suggested me to pay the amount via online transaction which will be convenient for both him and me as I would require cash during my journey. Thanks to WiFi available at his office I was able to complete the online transaction and get the tickets. The departure time was 7:55 AM on 15th December 2019. So, far so good right? But there is a twist. There were few university documents that I could not get on 11th December 2019. Without those documents even if I make it to Delhi, it would be useless.

14th December 2019
On 14th December 2019, the curfew was further withdrawn from 9 AM to 4 PM. The good folks at my university were kind enough to call me and hand me over the required documents. On the way, the crowd that I was at fuel stations were just unbelievable. Since people were unable to refuel their vehicles for three days, they all lined up with their vehicles and with gallons in hands to get petrol and diesel for their vehicles. Grocery stores did not have enough groceries for all the people who were waiting outside the stores. It announced on the news in the evening that the curfew will be from 10 PM to 6 AM the next morning. A few minutes later the news was followed by an SMS on my phone from the airlines informing me that the flight will be late by 50 minutes i.e. the new departure time is 8:45 AM. It was kind of a relief as it provided us with some extra time in hand. Oh! I almost forgot to include that my mother was going to accompany me on this "trip".

TO BE CONTINUED....

Read the part 2 of the article (click the link below)

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