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Amid pandemic, tributes paid in Assam’s Silchar to 11 language martyrs

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a corona curfew, and a torrential pre-monsoon downpour on Wednesday, tributes were paid to the 11 people killed in police fire in Silchar in May 19, 1961, during the Bengali language unrest.

The key event was headed by Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli, Lok Sabha Member Rajdeep Roy, and newly elected BJP MLA Dipayan Chakraborty at Tarapur’s Silchar railway station. A small group of poets, musicians, and artists from all three Barak Valley districts — Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi — gathered at the railway station to pay their respects.

The 11 martyr’s monument on the outskirts of Silchar mass crematory site was paying similar tributes. Similar tributes.

In light of the pandemic and corona curfew, a significant number of artists and singers performed at a range of cultural functions and events organized on different social networking sites on the occasion of “Bhasa Shahid Diwas” (Language Martyrs Day).

On May 19, 1961, eleven youths, including Kamala Bhattacharjee, were shot and killed by police at Silchar railway station in southern Assam while requesting that Bengali be recognized as their mother tongue and an official language in the state. Bhattacharjee, who was 16 at the time, is remembered as the world’s first female language martyr.

In the three Barak Valley Districts in 1961, the Assam government officially recognized the Bengali script. The Barak Valley in southern Assam is home to approximately 4.5 million people, more than 80 percent of whom speak Bengali.

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Written by Ankur J Kakoti

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