From Our Correspondent
Silchar, May 19: Barak Valley with deep emotion and profound respect paid glowing tributes to the 11 martyrs who had laid down their lives on this day 54 years ago for the sake of their mother tongue, Bengali, which came under assault from the State through bureaucratic interference and the conspiratorial design of linguistic jingoism and chauvinism. It was a historic mass movement launched in 1961 across the valley joined in by different linguistic and cultural groups which succeeded in foiling the evil machition to throttle the democratic and fundamental right of people to read and write in their own mother tongue as guaranteed under clauses 39 and 40 of the Indian Constitution.
Various organisations joined the movement in order to assert the right and to press the State Government of the time to recognize Bengali as the medium of instruction and also as official language of Barak Valley as stipulated in the three–language formula mooted by the Shastri Committee. English was to be retained along with that. It was most unfortute that the State Government through the district administration was determined to suppress the mass awakening and it was on May 19, 1961 that the agitationists or satyagrahis who were holding protest rally at Silchar railway station and blocked the movement of trains peacefully were subjected to unprovoked firing by police in which eleven demonstrators lost their lives.Their sacrifices are recollected since then on the day every year and today on the 54th martyrdom, the celebration and commemoration which began yesterday reached its crescendo on the historic day.
People in thousands since morning have been paying their tributes at the martyrs column or monument in the urban and rural areas across the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi. The scene at the railway station here, witness to the tragic killing of the martyrs, was not only emotiolly surcharged but also pensive as people of all ages and different communities turned up to offer their homage at their memorial. At the crematorium in the heart of the town, it was quite pensive where the martyrs were consigned to holy flames. From 2pm today, long queues could be seen of multitudes to pay their tributes to the martyrs’ column at Gandhi Bagh.
After dusk, auspicious flaming lamps in remembrance of the martyrs in houses and columns were put up with prayer to inspire the generations with their spirit of sacrifice for a noble cause. The day was marked by cultural functions organized by social and literary bodies which included recitation of poems, songs, release of souvenirs and CDs on the self poetic compositions related to language movement and themes. Blood dotion camps were organized by voluntary bodies for the needy and poor in their emergent situations. Work in state government offices in Barak Valley was suspended after 1 pm as a mark of respect. The Deputy Commissioner of Cachar G M Hazarika along with the officers and staff of his establishments offered floral tributes at Gandhi Bagh. Conspicuous by their presence were representatives of Hmar Students’ Association, Dimasa Students’ Association, Manipuri Students’ Union and ga Students’ Association along with ACKHSA at the memorial homage.
All IndiaDemocratic Students’ Organisation paid their homage towards the martyrs’ with march past. The members of Komsomol offered guard of honour to the martyrs.
As many as 25 social and cultural organisations under the banner of Sammilit Sanskritik Mancha as well as Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan, Anda Bharati, Department of Fine Arts, Assam University, Barak Artists Guild, Matri Bhasa Suraksha Samiti, Bar Library, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Silchar Press Club, Ahale Sunt, different political parties, DSA, students of schools and colleges among others turned up to pay respect at Gandhi Bagh after 2 pm.
Poets and litterateurs of West Bengal, Brahmaputra Valley, and Bangladesh also came all the way here to join the historic celebration.