Patriotic Front’s Rush For Guwahati War Memorial By NJ Thakuria
Guwahati: Amidst an unwanted debate over an under-construction war
memorial at Guwahati of northeast India, a forum of nationalist
citizens strongly urged Assam government to complete the monument on a
Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA), while supporting the
construction of the State-level war memorial on northern bank of
Dighalipukhuri (literary meaning a long pond) inside the city,
appealed to the section of citizens, who are opposing the noble
mission, not to create hinders on its progress.
It may be mentioned that a group of citizens, led by Assamese
academician Dr Hiren Gohain, has been opposing the first war memorial
depicting the 1671 Battle of Saraighat, which is under construction
following the initiative by Rajya Sainik Board with the support from
the State government, arguing that the concrete structure has violated
‘norms concerning preservation of heritage/historical sites and
water-bodies, besides impacting the tank’s ecology adversely’.
However, All Assam Ex-Servicemen Association rejects the logic that
the up & coming project would in no way distort the heritage appeal,
aesthetic beauty and ecological sanctity of the historic water-body
(Dighalipukhuri). Colonel (retired) Rabin Das, secretary of the
association, pointed out that the war memorial would be constructed on
the available vacant land over the northern bank of Dighalipukhuri.
The construction process is guided in such a way that the water body
never gets disturbed and cutting trees was also avoided, he added.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi laid the foundation stone of the
rupees 10 crore budget war memorial in May last year, where noted
Assamese sculptor Biren Singha has designed the statues and other
artifacts for the project. The war memorial would comprise the
statues of Mohabir Lachit Barphukan with other soldiers in the Battle
of Saraighat (over might river Brahmaputra), an Amar Jawan Jyoti
reverse rifle with a helmet on top, an uniformed soldier with his
rifle reverse arm salute and also relief panels depicting iconic
battle scenes from pre & post independent India.
Regarding the choice of the location, Commodore (retired) Kamalesh
Chandra Choudhury, VSM (retired), who is the secretary of Rajya Sainik
Board, highlighted that the Dighalipukhuri had its own importance
during the six hundred years of Ahom rule. As Assam is yet to get a
State-level war memorial, the coming-up project at Dighalipukhuri
would be a fitting tribute to the known & unknown martyrs & heroes,
who sacrificed their lives for the motherland in various battles &
wars, added Choudhury.
BS Gogoi, a respected Guwahatian also asserted that Dighalipukhuri
played an immense role in the famous naval battle of Saraighat and
hence it is the most appropriate place for a war memorial in the whole
“One does not find any justification for the belated opposition to the
project as it was in the news for the last six months. A year back,
the northern portion of Dighalipukhuri remained open for various
illegal activities. Immoral and anti-social activities were once the
order of the day there!” said Gogoi.
The PPFA, in a recent statement issued by Rupam Barua, Jagadindra
Raychoudhury, Girindra Karji, Pramod Kalita, Mrinal Talukder, Anup
Sarma, Tarali Chakrabarty, Nava Thakuria etc, expressed anguish that a
few citizens have raised objections to the war memorial citing the
reason that it might disturb the aquatic animals of the pond, where as
the monument would be raised on land areas only. The forum reiterated
that a war memorial in the city was a long standing demand from the
patriotic people of the alienated region and hence the project must
not get suffered because of some unfunded reasons floated by a section