With mega event in Delhi, Assam govt pushes for national recognition to 17th century general

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With an exhibition, two panel discussions and addresses by union cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Assam government is culminating its valourisation of 17th century Ahom general Lachit Barphukan through his 400th birth anniversary celebrations this year in Delhi.

Three days of these celebrations were kicked off in the national capital Wednesday with Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurating an exhibition on Barphukan and the Ahom Dynasty with artefacts from late medieval Assam in Vigyan Bhawan.

Lachit Barphukon is best known for leading the Ahom troops which fought and defeated advancing Mughal troops at the Battle of Saraighat on the outskirts of Guwahati in 1671. Through these high-profile celebrations of his 400th birth anniversary, the Assam government is pushing for his national recognition as a hero along the lines of Shivaji, and as an important foil to the Mughals.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made this clear in his address at the celebrations’ inaugural session Wednesday.

“India was not just about the Mughals. It was about so many other kings who ruled the country with affection. But Indian history has ignored our heroes. Indian history has ignored Lachit Barphukan, the Indian history has ignored the glorious Ahom dynasty. I hope and believe that this campaign of the government of Assam and the people will put the dynasty into its proper perspective. Indian history will recognise the glorious contribution of various kings and that India had a better general and better kings than Aurangzeb,” he said.

“Lachit’s victory at the Saraighat helped to preserve the Ahom kingdom’s independence and protected the culture and civilisation of Assam. He was a military genius and a fearless leader… The Mughals planned to invade Assam and Southeast Asia through the Brahmaputra valley and spread Islam throughout the region. But Lachit Barphukan created history by foiling their imperialist policy at Saraighat,” he added.

The Assam government has been having a week-long celebration since November 18, which included the release of a theme song by renowned singer Zubeen Garg. On Wednesday, Sarma announced that a book and a documentary on Barphukan have been prepared and the government is working on memorial projects including a building in Barphukan’s honour at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad.

“I would strongly urge the government of Assam to make sure this display is taken to the different parts of the country, to different universities where young Indians assemble for them to know what remarkable contributions Assam and its people have made for the motherland. And that is what is going to motivate, inspire and encourage young Indians to know more about India. In 70 years, we have not had a fair share of history for those who deserve to be mentioned, top of the agenda, top of the books, top of the indexes, and top of the chapters about the contribution, remarkable intelligence and strategic experiences these people had,” said Sitharaman.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will attend the celebrations on Thursday and Prime Minister Modi will attend on Friday.



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