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Barak Valley Unites: Historic "March of Unity" on May 16 to Honor Language Martyrs of May 19


In a nation as diverse as India, language holds immense importance, serving as a mirror to its rich cultural tapestry. An event of great significance in the country's linguistic history is commemorated annually on May 19 as Bhasa Sahid Divas in Barak Valley. This solemn day pays tribute to the 11 martyrs who, on May 19, 1961, sacrificed their lives advocating for the recognition of Bengali when the government attempted to establish Assamese as the sole official language. Their ultimate sacrifice resulted in Bengali being declared the official language of Barak Valley and the second official language of Assam.


This year, in a remarkable demonstration of unity and deep respect for their mother tongue, the three districts of Barak Valley—Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi—are coming together to host a joint rally for the first time. This unprecedented event, spearheaded by Borak er Awaj (Voice of Barak), a coalition comprising various NGOs and associations, aims to honor the enduring legacy of the language martyrs. It also seeks to promote peace and unity among different linguistic communities within the region.


As Bhasa Sahid Divas approaches, numerous organizations have been organizing rallies and events to mark this significant occasion. On May 15, several youth and student organizations held rallies to commemorate the day. Tomorrow, on May 16, the “March for Unity” organized by Voice of Barak promises to be a landmark event, bringing together over 100 organizations and individuals from diverse backgrounds. This rally will not only involve the Bengali-speaking community but will also see participation from various linguistic groups including Marwari, Bhojpuri, Gorkha, Manipuri, Naga, and others.


Extensive preparations have been made for this historic event, with Borak er Awaj engaging in detailed consultations with community leaders and representatives such as Dr. Abhijeet Nath, Jugal Kishore Tripathi, Dilip Sinha, Badal Kamei, Dilip Singh, Sanjeev Roy, Tuhina Biswas, Rajiv Nath, Swarnali Choudhury, and Gautam Gupta. These discussions have been aimed at ensuring the event is inclusive and represents the unity of all linguistic groups in Barak Valley.


The importance of one’s mother tongue goes beyond mere communication; it is a fundamental aspect of identity, culture, and heritage. Throughout history, communities worldwide have defended their languages against imposition and marginalization. International Mother Language Day, observed on February 21, commemorates the sacrifices made during the Language Movement in Dhaka, which ultimately led to the liberation war in Bangladesh. Despite progress, many intellectuals in Barak Valley still advocate for May 19 to receive equal recognition, emphasizing the enduring significance of linguistic pride and unity.


In conclusion, as Barak Valley prepares to honor its language martyrs, the upcoming “March for Unity” stands as a testament to the region’s commitment to preserving its linguistic heritage. The event not only commemorates the past sacrifices but also seeks to build a future where diverse linguistic communities can coexist peacefully, united by mutual respect and shared cultural values.

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