Stripped adivasi girl takes on Congress in the polls

Guwahati: Stripped naked and brutally assaulted by a violent mob in broad daylight, she had to run for her life in Guwahati on November 24, 2007. The barbaric incident, captured graphically on TV, which shocked the nation, took place when this young adivasi girl travelled 258 km from her village to the State capital for the first time to take part in a rally by the All- Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) to demand Scheduled Tribe status for the adivasis of Assam.
Traumatic attack: Traumatised by the brutal and barbaric attack, she disappeared into the fleeing crowd after a middle – aged local resident came to her rescue and took off his own shirt to help the girl cover herself. However, with her family rallying behind her, Laxmi Orang Sushanta Talukdar emerged from the ordeal a stronger and more determined woman. Ms. Orang subsequently turned down jobs offered by the Assam government twice after the shameful incident in the central Beltola locality of the capital city. She declined to accept ex-gratia of Rs. one lakh offered to her by the state government as compensation. The gutsy woman even refused to open official mail sent to her. Ms. Orang, who has three educated unemployed brothers at home at Japowbari Orang Basti near Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district, declined the government offers at a cost, because it was a time when she desperately needed a job.
Turning point: The Beltola incident was a turning point for the 25-year-old who decided to take the struggle of her community for Scheduled Tribe status to the floor of Parliament. Perfume magnate and President of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) Badaruddin Ajmal offered her a party ticket to contest from Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency. A determined Ms. Orang promptly accepted the offer and jumped into the fray.
Sorry plight: Prior to the Beltola incident, Ms. Orang was a daily wage labourer making Rs. 40 a day, who dreamt of saving up enough money to do a vocational course in knitting and tailoring. Poverty had forced her to discontinue schooling after studying up to Class X; her plight was such that she had to share a single kerosene lamp with her three brothers to study at night. “I never dreamt of joining politics. But the incident at Beltola has prompted me to embark on this mission. I will devote my full energy to taking forward the struggle of my community for scheduled tribe status and the uplift of all poor and downtrodden people in my constituency.
I will not rest till my mission is accomplished.” Pitted against Congress heavyweight and sitting MP Mani Kumar Subba, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term, Ms. Orang is now busy reaching out to voters. From morning till night, she and her core campaign team – father Deba Orang and brothers Raju, Rajen and Ramen – go door to door explaining to voters why Ms. Orang deserves to represent them in Delhi. The response, they say, is overwhelming. Source: http://blogs.thehindu.com/elections2009/?p=304

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