FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
MANGALDAI, Jan 27: “In the Deccan the fury of riots was directed against money-lenders, in Bengal against indigo- planters, in Pab against zamindars, but in Assam, at this moment, it is open rebellion against the government” this was the most valid point made in the editorial in The Amrit Bazar Patrika dated February 14 of 1894 while differentiating the uprisings in Assam from peasants-artisans movements in other parts of India with reference to the historic peasants uprising at the sleepy village Pothorughat in Darrang district on January 28 in 1894 where as many as 140 peasants belonging to both the Hindus and Muslims were brutally shot dead and 150 were injured in the firing by the British rulers as the peasants were assembled only lodge their protest against the increased hike in land revenue in a peaceful manner.
This tragic yet glorious chapter of the freedom struggle of India, still neglected by the historians of the country, perhaps, is the first instance of passive and non- violent resistance to acts of oppression in entire India, which was the purest and most perfect form of philosophy of Satyagraha taken up much later by Mahatma Gandhi only in 1919. This can be evident from the report submitted by then Deputy Commissioner of Darrang JD Anderson who ordered for firing upon the innocent peasants to the Commissioner of Assam Valley Districts on January 30 of 1984. “I informed them of the orders passed by the Government of India as to the rates of revenue, and then directed them to disperse, going among them freely and talking to them of the inevitable consequences of a refusal to disperse. They remained firm, however, and, without in any way assaulting or abusing me, simply refused to budge” this was the point made by the Deputy Commissioner on the peasants assembled on that fateful day at Pothorughat. All the pan- Indian incidents of resistance against the British throughout the 19th century had been armed uprisings. But the courageous peasants of Darrang district assembled at Pothorughat on that day had defied the government using the weapon that Gandhiji would many decades later project as an instrument to bring the freedom to the country.
The Pothorughat episode is also a glaring example of traditiol religious harmony and cooperation of Axomiya society as peasants belonging to Hindu and Muslim fought and died side by side for a common cause. The rare sacrifice of these 140 peasant Martyrs later became the source of inspiration to strengthen the fraterl bonds leaving a shining example to the entire tion. The labelling of the peasants uprisings at Pothorughat as “Pothorughator Ron” or the “battle of Pothorughat” is none but a blatant misnomer. The so called “weapons” used by the peasants were bamboo stick and clods of earth as mentioned in the report of the Deputy Commissioner JD Anderson on January 30 of 1894 which is the clear reflection that the gathered assembly of peasants had no intention of indulging in violence or attacking the officers and their armed personnel. Had there any intention of violence or attack, the agitating gathering of peasants would have been armed with the easily available instruments like daos and spears. Whatever retaliation might have been there from the peasants had been in spontaneous response to the arrogant refusal of the British officers simply to listen to their pleas.
The tragedy of Pothorughat is a milestone in the history of freedom struggle of our motherland. Even today, over a century since that rare sacrifice of those 140 known and unknown peasant Martyrs, Pothorughat continues to be the source of inspiration to the people of Assam. But at the same time, this glorious chapter of our freedom struggle has been deprived of its mention in the tiol level history. Apart from the celebration of Krishak Swahid Divas at Pothorughat on January 28 every year in which the Chief Minister is a regular chief guest, the Red Horns Division of Indian army has been celebrating the Day in full military style on January 29 in which the GOC of Red Horns Division is the regular chief guest since 2000.
It may be mentioned that at the initiative of then Governor Lt. Gen. S K Sinha, the Red Horns Division constructed a memorial at Pothorughat which is the only memorial in the country constructed by the Army in memory of peasants or civilians.
As the Red Horns’ Division of the Indian Army has been taking up the praiseworthy initiative for the ceremonial celebration of the ‘Krishak Swahid Divas’ every year at Pothorughat, it would be much better if the General being the Chief of the Army could spare few moments from his busy schedule to attend the function in future only to help in getting the tiol recognition to this glorious yet neglected chapter of the struggle for Independence of our Motherland!
It is an irony that during his tenure as the President of All Assam Students Union (AASU), Union Minister Sarbanda Sonowal, the AASU celebrated the centery celebration of the ‘Pothorughatar Ron’ at Pothorughat which was attended by eminent jourlist and writer Kuldip yar as the chief guest. But to the reason to be known by him, Kuldip yar never used his pen to write a few words in the tiol newspapers on this historic event of India’s freedom struggle. Similarly the people of Darrang particularly of Pothorughat has had the hope that Sarbanda Sonowal being a member of rendra Modi led Union Ministry would make initiative for a visit of Hon’ble President of India or the Prime Minister to Pothorughat, but perhaps like other political leaders Mr. Sonowal too failed to spare few moments from his busy schedule for Pothorughat.
Two years back, the then Governor of Assam JB Patik made a visit to Pothorughat and offered floral tribute in memory of the 140 Krishak Swahids. On that day while attending a state level semir on ‘Pothorughat’ organized by Mangaldai Media Circle at District Library Auditorium, the Governor made an assurance in public to organize a tiol level semir in New Delhi. But unfortutely that assurance is yet to see the light of the day. Will the state government or the BJP led Union Government could take up the initiative for taking the Pothorughat in the tiol level and to confer the tiol recognition to these 140 Krishak Swahids?