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Lachit Sena's Bengali Banner Vandalism Sparks Controversy, "Illegal and a Shame," Sushmita Dev

Shocking video footage has emerged, revealing cadres of the Lachit Sena tearing down banners in Bengali language at Durga Puja Pandals in parts of the Brahmaputra Valley. This act of vandalism has ignited a fervent debate over the aggressive imposition of Assamese language and the restriction on the usage of Bengali, one of India’s official languages in a state where there are millions of people with Bengali as their mother tongue.

Before destroying the banners, members of the Lachit Sena engaged in a heated confrontation with Puja Committee representatives, questioning their intentions for choosing Bengali over Assamese. The Lachit Sena, a fringe group known for its often unruly behavior, has claimed that the use of Bengali language is a crime, escalating tensions during a time when Bengalis worldwide celebrate the joyous spirit of Durga Puja.

The festival holds immense cultural and religious significance for Bengalis, and it is renowned as one of the most significant celebrations of their community. However, the aggressive interference in the choice of language used in the Pandals by an unrecognized group has raised serious concerns.

While the incident has stirred a debate, BJP leaders representing constituencies with a Bengali majority have chosen to remain silent on the matter, drawing criticism from various quarters. Opposition leaders, social workers, and prominent figures have voiced their concerns about the banner vandalism.

Former Member of Parliament from Silchar and Rajya Sabha MP, Sushmita Dev, condemned the actions of radical groups, saying, “I condemn the fact that some radical groups have taken it upon themselves to forcibly remove the banners using Bangla Bhasha in the Puja Pandals in certain parts of Assam. It is illegal & a shame.”

Social worker Sadhan Purkayastha took to social media to clarify the historical context, emphasizing that Martyr Lachit’s battle was against Mughal aggression, not against the Bengali community. He underscored that the battles led by Lachit were intended to safeguard the integrity and interests of the Ahom Kingdom against the Mughals.

Purkayastha emphasized that the Assam of today is different from the Ahom Kingdom of yesteryears, as it is a product of British rule, a fact well-known to most Assamese people, including the Chief Minister of Assam.

The incident has highlighted the need for a harmonious celebration of diversity and cultural exchanges in a country as culturally rich and diverse as India. The clash between language and tradition, as seen in the vandalism of Bengali banners, remains a concerning issue, requiring attention and resolution as the festive season continues.

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