It was after ten days that Jadav Basumutary opened his gate to visitors on Thursday this week. The 85-year-old retired teacher had locked himself along with his wife to save themselves from getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
The old couple from Chitralekha Nagar of Tezpur, Assam, has not inoculated themselves, and have also not allowed any health worker to approach them. “I am old and do not keep well these days. My wife too is aged, so what happens if I develop allergies after the jab. People have died after vaccination. I have decided not to be vaccinated and keep ourselves segregated,” says Basumutary.
It took the Assam Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development Ranjit Das hours of coaxing and persuasion before the woman of the house finally opened the gates and allowed him along with a team of doctors and health workers to enter their house. The retired teacher kept on giving his reasons for not getting vaccinated. Das had a difficult time persuading the retired teacher to change his mind.
“Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has asked the ministers, MPs and MLAs to go to our respective districts and meet people who have been left out of the massive vaccination drive and ensure 100% vaccination. We have launched the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ drive to achieve this. In my constituency, there are people 90 years of age who have been vaccinated,” said Das.
After hours of coaxing, Basumatry’s wife agreed for her first dose, but Basumatry did not relent, saying he would think over the matter.
‘Give me medicines instead’
But it’s not just old people like Basumatry, who have opposed vaccination. The younger generation has also resisted vaccination in several parts of Assam and more evidently in the tea gardens of the state.
In Dejoo Valley tea estate, the health officials of Kaliabor, Nagaon, finally caught hold of a tea garden worker who somehow managed to keep himself aloof from the nationwide vaccination drive.
“I will take medicine and visit you people tomorrow. Spare me today as my heart is beating terribly. Don’t take me today, I don’t want this vaccine, give me medicine instead,” pleaded the tea garden worker, who was eventually vaccinated with the help of local police.
In other tea garden labour lanes, health officials had to face adults who said that they are possessed and if they are vaccinated forcibly then the consequences shall be dire. While some had to be chased, some challenged the authorities. Fear of possible death and misconception on the futility of the vaccine kept people abstainers away from the vaccines.
CM Sarma said that more than one lakh government employees have been engaged for the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ drive and the state will achieve 100% vaccination of the first dose by December 5.
The state government had on Monday this week launched the seven-day ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign to ensure that no person is left behind in the Covid-19 vaccination exercise. In this door-to-door drive — which will continue till December 5, 2021— more than 28,000 polling booths shall be covered.
Assam has set a target of vaccinating 3 lakh people with the first dose by December 5. Around 1 lakh government employees, the CM, all ministers and MPs will participate in the drive to ensure its success.