SILCHAR, April 10: The 50th anniversary of official language Act 1966 was observed by Barak Upatyaka Matribhasa Suraksha Samiti (BUMSS) today. This Act was ected after statewide protest by the Bengali speaking people of Barak Valley and the state as a whole against the state language Act of 1960 which aimed at creating an unilingual Assam. The demand then raised was to recognize Bengali as the second state language and to accord due respect to the languages of other linguistic minority groups.
In order to suppress the non-violent mass agitation, the government adopted repressive policy and even the police resorted to firing on May 19, 1961, killing 11 persons including a young girl at Silchar railway station. Many were injured, some seriously. Since then, the day is being observed as ‘language martyrs’ day’. Such repressive measures were also seen at Karimganj railway station and different places of this valley.
During this non-violent movement, hundreds of leaders and protesters courted arrest and went to jail. The government did not stop here. Attempts were made to create serious law and order problem in the valley by forcefully stopping the historic movement. But, the state had to bow down to public demand and on April 15, 1966, a circular was issued in respect of a modified language Act, a revised version of the infamous 1960 Act. Its main objective was to make Bengali as the official language of this valley.
But unfortutely, during the last 50 years, this Act of 1966 has not been implemented. Rather, the use of Bengali has been restricted. At the panchayat level, offices and local boards, the Bengali language is neglected. BUMSS since its inception has been making every effort to ensure the proper implementation of 1966 Act. From time to time, representations were made to the Deputy Commissioners of three districts who taking note of the contents have directed all the state departments to strictly implement the said Act.
On the 50th anniversary of the language Act, Samiti has urged upon people to take up agitation programme in a democratic manner for the implementation of the said Act. All sections of people, political parties, social and cultural organizations and NGOs have been called upon to become a part of the movement. The members of the Samiti today distributed leaflets and pamphlets among the people, making them aware of the significance of the day and exhorting them to remain vigilant and alert against any attempt by the state machinery to infringe upon their constitutiol and democratic right to use their own mother tongue, officially as well as the medium of instruction.