Curfew was relaxed for ten hours on Monday in Assam’s violence-affected silk town of Sualkuchi, where the situation continued to remain tense due to violent protests against trading in synthetic and Benarasi silk garments.
The curfew was imposed on Saturday after 14 people were injured in clashes between police personnel and protestors.
A mob of protestors had started burning heaps of Benarasi silk garments -- which were being sold as Assamese Paat silk by a section of unscrupulous traders and was threatening the garment manufacturing industry in Sualkuchi.
The army has already been deployed in the silk town.
The district administration of Kamrup has launched a massive search operation to seize Assamese attire made of Benarasi silk.
The district administration on Sunday imposed a ban, under Section 144, on the sale of Assamese attire made of Benarasi silk with genuine Assamese Paat silk attire in the same outlet. The two types of silk clothes would have to be sold in separate shops with signboards that clearly stated which variety was being stocked.
Protestors, comprising weavers and silk garment traders from Sualkuchi, have already raised an alarm about the entry of Assamese dresses made of Benarasi silk.
The protestors warned that such unscrupulous practice would sound the death knell for the garment industry at Sualkuchi.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday claimed that he had never been informed about the many problems dogging Sualkuchi’s silk industry by anyone, including local Congress legislator and state cabinet minister Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma.
Dr Sharma pointed out that representatives of weavers and silk traders from Sualkuchi had met Gogoi seven times since February 2011 to seek a solution to their problems.
Dr Sharma claimed that the CM had promised 20 per cent subsidy under the state’s industrial policy to silk attire manufacturers from Sualkuchi, as well as a subsidy on electricity consumed by power looms.
Gogoi had also pledged to seek a trademark for silk attire produced in Sualkuchi, in addition to setting up a yarn bank to help weavers and loom owners acquire raw material at reasonable prices.
Assam’s Handloom and Textile Minister Pranati Phukon on Monday held a meeting with representatives of weavers and silk garment traders from Sualkuchi.
Image: A protest rally at Sualkuchi, Assam