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Women Blew Conch-shells to welcome Swayamsevaks

Women Blew Conch-shells to welcome Swayamsevaks

Author: Ranjit Roy
Publication: Sanghparivar.org
Date: June 5, 2009
URL: http://www.sanghparivar.org/women-blew-conch-shells-to-welcome-swayamsevaks

Massive Relief Work by RSS in Cyclone Affected Sunderbans

It was a nightmarish experience for 50-odd swayamsevaks who were desperate to reach Hingalganj jeti ghat criss-crossing other inaccessible riverine villages in the Sunderbans after Ailacyclone battered and ravaged the Bengal's famous archipelago of islands on May 25. The rivers Kalindi and Raimangal were turbulent and wind speed was not less than 60km per hour even 24 hours after the cyclone lashed the Sunderbans.

They hired a large vessel with acapacity to carry about 6 tonnes relief materials for distributing among cyclone hit villagers separated from the main land. Risking lives, they finally reached Jetighat, Hemnagar, Mandirghat and Parghumta villages where thousands of marooned villagers awaiting government relief past three days since the Aila blown away their hamlets. They had no food and drinking water during the past 72 hours.
Indeed, the marooned villagers had lost all hopes to survive as the area remained in accessible due to swelling of Dasha river following the cyclone. The team of swayamsevaks, led by North 24 Pargana zillakaryabaha Shri Sukumar Vaidya, was the first batch of volunteers to reach them braving nature's fury.

Initially starving villagers tookswayamsevaks as state government relief employees and started to hurl abuses.
However, when the distressed villagers discovered that they were RSS volunteers and risked their lives to bring them relief materials, they were simply over-joyed and begged pardon for their initial mistake. Women blew conch-shells to welcome the swayamsevaksin their mud houses. Packets of dry food, water pouches, milk powder and clothes brought by swayamsevaks were distributed with full cooperation of the distressed villagers.
This is the same area where the local CPI(M) MLA Gopal Gayen from Hingalganj was roughed-upand the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee received abuses from relief deprived villagers on June 2. The distressed villagers in Hingalganj block in the riverine Sunderbans made it amply clear that even in misery they had more respect for honest and hard-working swayamsevaks of the RSS than callous elected communist leaders strutting about in the corridors of power.

Nearly a week after cyclone Aila hitWest Bengal's coast, thousands of people are still stranded in the Sunderbans. People with boats have left, but many have no choice but to stay. The human misery is telling. "I have nothing left. Utensils, pans, plates and glasses. Even the three bags of rice, we had saved from thelast harvest, are gone. It would have been good had we been given a house to live in by the administration. What else do poor people have, money? My daughter has to be married off, but there's nothing left," Purnima Mondal, resident of Dakshin Yogeshganj near Bangladesh boder said. The villagers here are facing an added misery as robbers from Bangladeshare raiding border villages as they left their homes and sheltered 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 90 villages. Swayamsevaks of the two neighbouring districts have set up 32 relief camps and feeding about 30,000 cyclone hit hapless villagers daily since 26 May. The worst affected are the five blocks, Hasnabad, Najat, Sandeshkhali I &II and Hingalganj. Here 50 sakhas are affected due to large-scale inundation. Even after flooding, swayamsevaksare running two relief camps in Basantitala where cooked food is supplied to nearly 4,000 villagers daily.

Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, Dr Manmohan Vaidya, visited several relief camps in the affected areas in Hasnabad block in north 24 Parganas on June 3 and took a stock of the grim situation prevailing there. He was told that the RSS volunteers braved the storm and rains and started distributing relief to distressed villagers at Basanti, Sonakhali, Kultuli, Gosaba, Pathankhali, Hemnagar, Mandirghat within six hours after the Aila lashed villages in the Sunderbans on May 26. As the villagers have lost everything and have no means to cook rice, the meals are being cooked at the RSS relief centre sin the main land and then transported by country boats torelief camps set up by sawyamsevaks in far-flung Sunderbanislands daily.

This mamoth relief operation requires huge amount of money. Shri Vaidya appealed to people all over the country to come forward at this timecrisis and shoulder some social responsibility by donating liberally to organizations like Bastuhara Sahayata Samiti, RSS Samaj Seva Bharati, and Friends of Tribal Society.

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