Assam: Bihu committees stage protest, demand relaxation of SOPs

 Bohag Bihu celebrations will begin on April 14.

Members of Bihu organising committee staged a sit-in protest at Latasil playground here on Sunday demanding review of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued for the ensuing Bohag Bihu celebrations recently in the wake of the surge in COVID-19 positive cases across the state.

Representatives of the Sadou Asom Bihu Sanmilani and Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Samannay Rakshi Samiti demanded relaxation of two clauses in the SOPs in particular - the guideline to end all Bihu events by 11 pm and mandatory COVID tests for all organisers and volunteers.

Bohag Bihu celebrations will begin on April 14.

According to reports, over 400 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Assam in the past 24 hours.

According to the guidelines, all organisers and volunteers of Bihu events will have to test their COVID status three days before the event and after it.

“The state government has shifted the onus of celebrating Bihu in accordance with SOPs on the organising committees, which will put us in a difficult situation. Besides, closure of Bihu events by 11pm will be almost impossible,” a member of the Bihu committee said.

Under normal circumstances, Bihu functions and cultural evenings at most pandals in the state continue beyond midnight till the wee hours.

A joint press conference was also held here on April 10, with the Bihu committees opposing the different rules for the recently concluded Assam Assembly election and the ensuing Bihu celebration.

“No such SOPs were issued for the election rallies where hundreds of people were seen. However, for the celebration of a festival like Bihu, many restrictions have been imposed,” said a member.

The committee members have also complained that they were not consulted by the government before the guidelines for the Bihu celebration were framed.

(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)

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