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Elegies on Sudeshna rend Guwahati air

Ramlal Sinha

GUWAHATI, March 17: Melodious elegies and speeches delivered with fiery passion rent the air in some pockets in Guwahati on sad Sunday last when the Bishnupriya Manipuris of the city recalled their language martyr, Sudeshna. 

Sudeshna Sinha, a teenaged girl, fell to the police bullet during a rail-roko agitation at Kalkalighat railway station in Karimganj district in the Barak Valley on March 16, 1996. The community had to agitate for decades to get their demand for the introduction of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language at the primary stage of education fulfilled. At such a function organized by the Gobinda Mandir Committee, in collaboration with Marup, an NGO, at Milan Nagar in the Borbari area in the city, Marup’s vice president and cine artiste Ashutosh Sinha (Rabi) and Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum president DILS Lakshmindra Sinha kept the audience spellbound when they sang elegies after paying tribute to the martyr. The paying of tribute was led by mandir committee president Jyotiprakash Sinha, and he was followed by senior citizen Birendra Sinha, general secretary Anil Sinha, Marup president Badal Sinha,, who took part with a team of his office-bearers, and others. Ashutosh Sinha gave a detailed account on the very agitation when Sudeshna had fallen to the police bullet. 

The day coincided with the foundation day of the mandir and Holi. On that occasion, the mandir committee felicitated three senior members of the committee – Sri Birendra Sinha, Sri Krishna Mohan Sinha and Sri Gauri Prasad Sinha. 

In another function in memory the martyr organized by the Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum at Satgaon and presided over by DILS Lakshmindra Sinha, public prosecutor Bhimsen Sinha spat fire when he said: “Sudeshna died a pathetic death, but our tears vanished into thin air…” Blaming the leadership of the agitation, the advocate fired a slew of questions asking them as to why the report of the post-mortem was not sought, why no FIR was lodged, why no inquiry by a sitting judge was demanded, and the like. 

Dr Nalini Sinha, a retired professor of North Eastern Hills University, said: “For us, Sudeshna is the Joan of Arc, Rani Lakshmibhai and Kanaklata.” It was followed by a poem recited by poet Sashi Kanta. Only in a few lines he could get his message across in an efficient way. 

While Col (retd) Bijoy Sinha laid stress on the use of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language in every socio-cultural aspect of the community, litterateur Prabhas Kanti gave a unity call. “Had Sudeshna been alive, she would have rued the way the martyr’s day is being observed in isolated pockets,” he said on the lack of unity among various organizations of the community. While BMDC Pau editor Bobita Sinha wanted the involvement of the youth on such occasions, Bishnupriya Manipuri Ex-army Association president Chandra Kanta Rajkumar brought the attention of the gathering to the plight of the next of kin of Sudeshna. He appealed to the BMDC and other organizations to extend their helping hands to bail out the family from its pathetic plight. Writer-cum-artist Sunil Sinha expressed his happiness for his involvement in the language movement. Elegies by many singers marked the day.

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