A state government hoarding written in Assamese has been found smeared with black ink in the predominantly Bengali Barak Valley region of Assam, triggering criticism from some parties.
The incident, which took place in Silchar in Cachar district on Sunday, was reportedly perpetrated by members of two organizations demanding the use of Bengali instead of Assamese in the Barak Valley region.
Footage showed the suspected militants climbing a ladder and degrading the palisade in front of Silchar station. They also wrote âBangla Likhunâ (write in Bengali) and the names of the two organizations below.
A Silchar official said no complaints have been made with police about the incident, although law enforcement is looking into the matter.
The Official Language of Assam Act, 1960, adopted Assamese as the official state language, although it includes provisions for the use of Bengali for all administrative and official purposes in the Barak Valley. majority Bengali in the state, comprising the Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi neighborhoods.
The use of the Bengali language for official purposes was authorized following a mass movement of the Bengali-speaking population, particularly in the Barak valley, which also resulted in the deaths of 11 protesters at the train station. Silchar on May 16, 1961.
The defamation of government hoarding has led to the condemnation of regional state organizations, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) criticizing the decision to denounce the official language of the ‘State.
Barak’s Yuba Democratic Front (BDYF) and the Bengali Student Youth Organization (ABSYO) reportedly carried out the protest program near the fence. Kalparnob Gupta, the BDYF official, argued that the advertisement was contrary to the government notification which allowed the use of Bengali as the official language in the Barak Valley.
âSome circles with special interests are trying to impose Assamese here. The Chief Minister was celebrating Durga Puja in the Barak Valley and at the same time his government is engaging in such acts, âhe said.
ABSYO Cachar District Chairman Raju Deb said the government should refrain from engaging in any activity that may disturb the harmony and focus on development projects.
Reacting to the incident, AASU Secretary General Sankar Jyoti Boruah said on Monday that it was unfortunate that the Assamese language had been insulted in Assam itself.
âIf the Assamese language is not respected in Assam even under the pretext of the language law, what will be the future of our language? he asked, in a written statement, shared via his account on social networks.
âEven after such incidents, the government wants to settle the Bangladeshi Hindus (speakers of Bengali) through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in our state. When this happens, will our language be safer? Borua asked.
He also demanded strict action against the organizations that had engaged in the act of degrading Silchar’s hoarding. Palash Changmai, secretary general of the AJYCP, alleged that part of the Bengali-speaking population was developing a plan to make Bengali comparable to the Assamese language in Assam.
âAssamese speakers are confined to Assam and if the language is not protected here, our language will be in danger,â he said. Changmai also criticized political leaders for failing to take action against those who smeared the hoarding with black ink.
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