FIR lodged for defacing hoarding in Assamese; BJP blames `third forces’ for incident


PTI, Oct 20, 2021, 8:01 AM IST

Image for representation (Source: iStock)

Silchar: After an FIR was lodged on Tuesday against local organizations here for allegedly smearing a state government hoarding written in Assamese with black ink, the BJP alleged that “third forces” were trying to divide people on linguistic lines.

Cachar superintendent of police Ramandeep Kaur said a complaint had been lodged by officials of Jal Jeevan Mission against defacing of its hoardings in Silchar town.

”On the basis of the complaint, we have registered an FIR at Silchar Sadar police station on Monday,” she said. ”Appropriate action will be taken against the culprits after investigation,” the SP added.

Government signposts and hoardings in the Barak valley where more than 3.6 million people live have since the 1960s been tri-lingual, including in Bengali, which is the predominant language in the region.

However, new hoardings put up by the state-run Jal Jeevan Mission which was defaced were in Assamese only.

Visuals showed alleged activists climbing a ladder and defacing the hoarding which was in the Assamese language in front of Silchar Railway station. They also wrote ‘Bangla Likhun’ (write in Bengali) and the names of two organizations below it.

“Using the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British, the Congress, Left parties and fundamentalist groups have been trying to bring a divide between Assamese and Bengali speakers for years now,” BJP spokespersons Ramkrishna Ghosh and Ranjib Kumar Sharma claimed in a joint statement in Guwahati later on Tuesday.

The party spokespersons alleged that a ‘third force’ wants to disrupt the peace and harmony prevailing in the state, but their attempts have been thwarted by quick action of the administration and sensible reaction of the public.

“Assam has been home to different languages, like Karbi, Mising, and Bodo, for ages and Assamese has been the unifying language for all the people. Likewise, Assamese and Bengali languages have complimented each other in their growth over the centuries,” the BJP spokespersons said.

Barak Democratic Yuva Front leader Pradip Dutta Roy, reacting to the FIR, however, questioned the decision to use only Assamese language in Government advertisements in Barak Valley, despite a decision to use Bengali also as an authorized official language in this part of the state after a language agitation in the 1960s.

Besides the BDYF, activists of All Bengali Students Youth Organisation (ABSYO) were also allegedly involved in the defacing incident.

Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy reacting to the incident alleged it could be part of a conspiracy to incite violence in the name of the language in the state and warned ”people from falling prey to such designs.” Trinamool Congress leader Susmita Dev said though she does not support the blackening of hoardings, alleged the hoardings ‘disrespected’ the Language Act.

The Assam Official Language Act, 1960, adopted Assamese as the official language of the state but included provisions for use of Bengali for all administrative and official purposes in the Bengali-majority Barak Valley of the state, comprising Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi districts.

The use of the Bengali language for official purposes was authorized following a mass movement by the Bengali-speaking population in Barak valley, which saw the death of 11 protestors in police firing at Silchar Railway Station on May 16, 1961.

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