FROM OUR Correspondent
Silchar, Sept 18: One of the earliest memories of Bengali language movement in Barak valley is about the eleven martyrs who laid down their life on May 19, 1961 at Silchar railway station for the sake of protesting against the decision of the state to make Assamese the only official language of Assam. The day dipped in blood, has been etched into the anls of history of Bengali language movement. Till this day, there have been apparently unending waves of protests, demonstrations and discussions, movements and strikes. Government at both levels has formulated policies and schemes, which reflects their apathy towards the Bengali speaking people. It is an open secret that the whole episode of NRC update process is backed by vested interests of politicians to gain political brownie points.
Assam would not be free of any Bengali, none will be forced to leave the state, no categorization would be entertained and a series of mass movements, agitations and protests would be organized every now and then and to publish the draft list and show it to all for further changes, if any. These decisions were taken a mass convention organized under the banner of garikatwa Suraksha Sangram Committee (NSSC), Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, held at the District Library auditorium of this town recently. A large number of people thronged in to attend the convention which reflected people’s apathy towards the government’s anti-Bengali policies.
Addressing the large gathering as the chief speaker of the convention, Suraj Jaman Mandal said, “It’s now or never. We had enough of discussions, meetings and conventions. NRC update process is just another part of conspiracy to make the state free of Bengali people. In Barak valley, Bengali speaking population constitutes a major part. It is better to die and to succumb to life that is going to be terrible for the Bengali people.”
“Anybody with a full grown beard and tokki cannot be labelled as a Bangladeshi. He further added that Prime Minister rendra Modi promised to do way with the detention camps in Assam, but all have been belied, as contrary to the PM’s promise, detention camp is there only at Assam.
Drawing a close resemblance with Shakespeare’s most celebrated line, ‘And all the men and women merely players’, Mandal said, “We are just puppets and our strings has been tied with the fingers of politicians. It is high time that we stand against such policies that speak of separating us. If the learned judges of the Foreigners’ Tribul can prove that an applicant is from Bangladesh, deport them. But without solid evidence, how can such a list be prepared.” He said, “Death is better than living on one’s knees. To organize a mass movement, we have to think beyond our own identities, religions, communities and castes.”
“Since our existence is at stake,” continued Mandal, “we have nothing to fear and lose. We should raise voice and fight so that governments at both levels awakes and arise from their slumber. We also do not need any fund or food; we can contribute on our own and organize such movements.”
Turning through the pages of the history of Assam, Dr Tapodhir Bhattacharjee, former Vice-Chancellor of Assam University and a noted academician, addressing the gathering as the chief speaker, said, “In 1947, we achieved divided freedom. Partitions and commul riots have stained our Independence with blood marks. The history of Bengali language movement is dipped in blood. Though we got freedom, it was just for mesake. History has given us a last to save the community from wiping out and we cannot afford to miss the bus now. Bitterness among Hindus and Muslims has been created long time back. We should however, think beyond this and stand up united.”
“Bengali people are harassed everywhere. If we delve into our past, we will find that we actually belong to this country. If history proves thus, how can others comment upon whether we are origil inhabitants or not?” Dr Bhattacharjee added.
Among others present at the convention included, Balaram Das, Maula Sarimul Haque Laskar, Maula Jalal Uddin Choudhury, Premangshu Shekar Paul, Shashank Shekar Paul, Pradip Kumar Deb and Arungshu Bhattacharjee. Prior to the convention , a mass rally was organized in which a large number of workers and members of various organizations, actively participated as the rally took a round and assembled at the District Library for attending the mass convention.