For weeks now, large parts of Assam have remained inundated due to monsoon floods, rendering hundreds destitute and homeless. Even on 15 August, the second wave of floods affected 25 of Assam's 32 districts, claiming 10 more lives, besides displacing 33 lakh people.
But on independence day, students in Assam braved inclement weather, treacherous terrain submerged in sludge, and waded through waist-high water to schools, to join teachers in hoisting the national flag.
Many from Assam shared pictures on social media of the celebrations, that gives a grim perspective of nationalism in times of televised "patriotism tests".
A heart wrenching image shared by an assistant teacher of the Naskara LP school from Dhubri district shows two children hoisting a flag while standing in knee deep water. The photo has gone viral.
The school's head teacher Tazem Sikder, his colleagues Nripen Rabha, Joydev Roy, and Mizanur Rahman, and Class 3 students Jiarul Ali Khan and Haidor Ali Khan were present during the flag hoisting, reports Hindustan Times.
"We sang the national anthem and Vande Mataram. Since, these children can't be in water for long, we dispersed the assembly early," one of the teachers told HT.
As this Telegraph report notes, Nagaon, Morigaon, Sonitpur and Biswanath districts are experiencing the worst floods in over 36 years. Year after year, the biggest state in the northeastern region is ravaged by floods. It displaces thousands and damages property worth billions. There's very little help from the government and nothing changes.
"The kids can't go to school, diseases start to spread and we are isolated here since everything around is inundated," one of the residents told NDTV.
Despite the suffering for days now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn't visited the state yet. All Assam Students' Union (AASU) general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi alleged that flood-affected people were living by the way side and on elevated land. He said that were not provided relief by the district administration.
"The flood-affected people are being helped by various organisations but not the district administration. The state government has been claiming that it has enough money. We demand the government to expedite its relief operations," he said.
But this wasn't the only moving image from Assam. Take a look at some of the other powerful photos from the flood-hit state.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonawal praised the people for celebrating I-day despite all odds.
This Mint report notes how the floods have affected Assam over the years. In 2014, 1,846 villages were affected and about 1.6 million people were displaced. In 2015, about 1.5 million people were displaced. And in 2016, about 1.7 million people being displaced.
The stories and photos pouring out of Assam are a valuable reminder that patriotism is beautiful when it is spontaneous, un-prompted, and uncoerced.
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