Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has come under attack from the opposition AGP and BJP, as well as from other groups over the state government withdrawing a circular regarding use of Assamese as official language in the three districts that comprise Barak Valley in southern Assam.
The Assam government had on November 30, 2013 issued a circular asking the deputy commissioners of all districts of the state to ensure use of Assamese as official language and submit a half-yearly report to the government on its implementation.
This had generated a lot of protests in the three Barak Valley districts – Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi – where Section 5 of the Assam Official Language Act 1960 as amended in 1967 had specified Bengali as the official language there.
While protests in the Barak Valley prompted the state government to issue a fresh circular on September 9 saying that the official language (Bengali) of Barak Valley will continue to be used for all official works, the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and BJP have come down heavily on the Congress government of Tarun Gogoi for apparently withdrawing Assamese from the Barak Valley.
“This is a totally anti-Assamese decision of the Congress government. Moreover, the circular comes just three days ahead of crucial by-election to three assembly constituencies, two of which are in the Barak Valley, clearly revealing that it is intended at catching votes,” said AGP general secretary Kamala Kalita here today.
The state BJP unit too has hit out at Gogoi, with its president Siddhartha Bhattacharyya described the circular as one that wouldlead to further division of Assam. “This circular is a weird decision of Tarun Gogoi that will have long-term impact and cause irreparable damage to the state,” Bhattacharyya said. The BJP leader also said that Gogoi’s intention behind such a circular on the eve of the by-elections was to get votes through what he described as typical Congress politics.
Noted litterateur and former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Nagen Saikia too criticized the state government and said this would create linguistic tension. “I may sound harsh, but I feel this circular will create a rift between two linguistic communities of the state,” Saikia said.