Lachit Barphukan, Commander in Chief, Ahom Army
29th November, 2022
In the Bible John 15:13 it is written John 15:13
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
There was a battle between the invading Mughal Army under Aurangzeb led by its general Ram Singh and the Ahom army led by Lachit Barphukan at the Saraighat on the bank of Brahmaputra near Guwahati. In that battle Lachit Barphukan uncle was entrusted in completing the construction of the fortress on the side of the river Brahmaputra giving him a timeline for the completion.
However when Lachit Barphukan suddenly went and inspected the preparation he found out that his uncle was sleeping instead of being busy with the construction. At that moment he flew in rage and killed his uncle and suddenly the army had been aroused to wake up and complete the construction of the fortress in time. On this occasion Lachit Barphukan had remarked that “My Country is dearer than my uncle”. In this way Lachit Burphokon attained an iconic status and was one of the quasi-historical icons who were appropriated by Assamese elites towards different politico-cultural ends and his popularity remained below Joymoti Konwari and others.
In post colonial Assam, cultural heroes like Lachit were largely displaced by anti-colonial activists in Nehruvian nation-building. The legend of Lachit has “retired into the domain of knowledge, away from activism.” However, the legend survived in the backwaters of Assamese sub-nationalism, with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) — a secessionist organization seeking the creation of an independent and sovereign Assam — extensively using Lachit’s imagery for propaganda. Lachit’s memory would be significantly appropriated within a governmental framework only under the governorship of Srinivas Kumar Sinha.
With time, Lachit has been appropriated within a Hindu Nationalist grammar as an Indian military hero. Now it was no more ULFA but the Government of Assam that tried the most to bring him into prominence. BJP’s rise in Assam has established Lachit as a Hindu defender against Muslim aggression. However historians reject such characterizations and accuse the party of rerouting nativist sentiments to communal faultlines. Not only was Lachit a Tai whose fellow commanders included Muslims but also the Mughal forces were led by a Rajput Ram Singh a Rajput.
Lastly this year is the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Barphukan and I had been posted in Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tezpur during my service as a bureaucrat in Income Tax Dept. I have found that hundreds of Assamese had sacrificed their love of Assam against the British Aggression. There is a road leading to Jorhat jail as Kaushal Konwar Path. It is worth to say that Jorhat jail is the only place in Assam where a criminal has been hanged to death.
LONGLIVE LACHIT BARPHUKAN AND THE ASSAMESE PEOPLE.
My eldest daughter is incidentally married to the son of Freedom fighter Chikon Dr. Sanjeev Kakoty. They hail from Sibsagar District.
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