Bifurcate Assam, let Bengali-majority Barak Valley be a separate state: Litterateur Nagen Saikia


Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Am eminent Assamese litterateur has opened Pandora’s box by advocating Assam’s bifurcation for the creation of the Barak Valley state.

A hoarding of the Jal Jeevan Mission, written in the Assamese language and put up in the Bengali-majority Barak Valley, has triggered the controversy.

Miffed over the alleged “imposition” of the Assamese language in a region where Bengali is the official language, the miscreants had smeared the hoarding in black recently.

The act, however, triggered an outrage in the Assamese-majority Brahmaputra Valley with the leaders of various organisations, including the All Assam Students’ Union, viewing it as an insult to the Assamese language and the Assamese. They had demanded action against the perpetrators of the crime.

Two persons were arrested in connection with the defacement of the hoarding. They are out on bail.

The non-Assamese (a large majority of them Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims) constitute over 95% of the population of southern Assam’s Barak Valley which is made up of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi – three of Assam’s 34 districts.

Nagen Saikia, who is a winner of the Sahitya Academy Award and former president of the ‘Asom Sahitya Sabha’ – the state’s highest literary body – believed the separation of the Barak Valley would go a long way in the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the state.

“I believe we can bring the heated situation to an end by according separate state status to the Barak Valley,” Saikia told journalists.

He also stated: “We want peace and harmony, not conflict. I would like to call upon the government to take up the issue with the people of both valleys.”

Earlier, various organisations from the Barak Valley, including the Barak Democratic Front (BDF) and the All Bengali Youth and Students’ Organisation, had staged demos protesting the use of the Assamese language in the Jal Jeevan Mission hoarding.

The chief convener of BDF Pradip Datta Roy said Bengali was made the official language of the Barak Valley in the wake of the language movement of 1961 which had claimed 11 lives in police firing.

He claimed that provisions under the Assam Official Language Act were violated through the use of the Assamese language in the hoarding.

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