Patriotic Front’s Rush For Guwahati War Memorial By NJ Thakuria

By NJ Thakura

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

war-footing management.
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

of Assam.
“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

of citizens.