Amidst the ongoing linguistic debate in Assam, famous Assamese litterateur and former president of the Asom Sahitya Sabha, Nagen Saikia proposed for the separation of Barak valley from Assam to eliminate anti-Assamese sentiments.
Addressing the media here in Dibrugarh, Saikia said, “Although, I am not convinced with the choice, yet, looking into the present situation in the state, I believe a status of a separate state would bring to an end of the heated situation in the state.”
“We don’t want conflict, we want harmony, we don’t want violence, we want peace, hence, I urged upon the state government to immediately take up the issue with the people of both Brahmaputra valley and Barak valley to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region,” Saikia added.
Similar call for the separation
Former Asom Sahitya Sabha presidents Hitesh Deka and Mahendra Borah had previously made a similar request for the independence of Cachar district from Assam, according to the famed Assamese poet.
Meanwhile, reacting to the comment made by the Nagen Saikia, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) general secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said, “We don’t want to comment over eminent Assamese litterateur Nagen Saikia, however, we urge the government to solve the current issue by keeping the territorial integrity of Assam in mind.”
Recent Controversy in Barak Valley
In the Bengali-majority Barak valley district of Assam, a state government poster written in Assamese was discovered defaced with black ink, prompting condemnation from various parties.
Members of two organizations demanding the usage of Bengali instead of Assamese in the Barak valley region allegedly carried out the incident on Sunday in Silchar, Cachar district.
The suspected activists were seen scaling a ladder and defacing a hoarding in front of Silchar Railway Station, according to surveillance footage. They also scribbled the words “Bangla Likhun” (write-in Bengali) and the names of the two organizations beneath it.
According to a Silchar official, no police report has been filed in connection with the event, though investigators are looking into it.
The Assam Official Language Act of 1960 established Assamese as the state’s official language, with provisions for Bengali to be used for all administrative and official purposes in the state’s Bengali-majority Barak Valley, which includes the districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi.
Following a large campaign by the Bengali-speaking populace, particularly in the Barak valley, which resulted in the killing of 11 demonstrators at Silchar Railway Station on May 16, 1961, the use of Bengali for official purposes was approved.
The state’s regional organizations have condemned the smearing of the government, with the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) criticizing the initiative to denigrate the state’s official language.
The demonstration was purportedly organized by the Barak Democratic Yuba Front (BDYF) and the All Bengali Students Youth Organization (ABSYO) near the hoarding.
The convener of BDYF, Kalparnob Gupta, claimed that the advertisement violated a government order allowing Bengali to be used as the official language in Barak Valley.
Some vested interests are attempting to impose Assamese in this area. According to the chief minister, he was celebrating Durga Puja in Barak Valley as his government indulged in such actions.
Raju Deb, the president of the ABSYO Cachar district, said the government should avoid engaging in any activity that could disrupt the peace and instead focus on development projects.
Sankar Jyoti Boruah, general secretary of the AASU, remarked on Monday that it is terrible that the Assamese language has been disrespected in Assam.