Updated: October 28, 2017 6:34:55 am
Various organisations and individuals in Assam have objected to a reported decision of the Navin Patnaik government in Odisha to acquire a property in Sambalpur that originally belonged to Lakshminath Bezbaroa, a doyen of modern Assamese literature, prompting Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to call up his Bhubaneswar counterpart to stop the process.
“There has been news that the Odisha government is acquiring the 2.72-acre plot of land along with two houses that belonged to Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaroa in order to construct a traffic rotary linked to a new bridge on the Mahanadi. The people of Assam have a very deep emotional attachment to the Bezbaroa property in Sambalpur. It was while living there that Bezbaroa had contributed the most to Assamese literature,” Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dhruba Jyoti Bora said.
The Sabha had sent a delegation led by its then president Rongbong Terang in 2012 which had met officials in the Odisha government and requested for taking steps to acquire and conserve the property as a heritage site that would also strengthen relationship between people of the two states, Bora said.
The property, passed on to the family of a businessman called Omkarmal Poddar, had remained disputed for several decades. The Poddar family had refused to part with it but the Odisha government last month acquired it for the “public purpose” of constructing the rotary linked to the Mahanadi bridge. Bezbaroa had lived in Sambalpur from 1917 to 1937. He had acquired the plot where he built a house in 1924. “It was in Sambalpur that he had written many of his stories and essays, and his autobiography Mor Jiwan Sowaran,” said Ananda Barmudoi of Dibrugarh University.
One of the earliest members of the Indian National Congress — he joined INC in 1885 — Bezbaroa was also the founder and first president of the Asam Chhatra Sanmilani in 1916, whose current avatar is the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). He was also the president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1924 and it was the Sabha which had organised his 150th birth anniversary in 2014-15.
“Assam CM Sonowal had a long telephonic discussion with Odisha CM Navin Patnaik on Thursday evening, during which he the drew attention to the historical and cultural importance of the property. While Patnaik has assured of taking some positive steps, Assam cultural minister Naba Kumar Doley is rushing to Bhubaneswar with a letter from Sonowal,” Hrishikesh Goswami, media advisor to the Assam CM said. Goswami too is accompanying Doley to Odisha.
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