Former Director-General of Assam Police Kuladhar Saikia was on Thursday elected as the new president of the apex and most influential literary body of the state, the Asom Sahitya Sabha, while the mother of state cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Mrinalini Devi, was elected as its vice-president.
Established in 1917, the Asom Sahitya Sabha has been active in the current protests against the implementation of the CAA. On December 31, the Chief Minister announced that the state government would provide Rs. 10 crore to Corpus Fund of Asom Sahitya Sabha.
Saikia, a Fulbright scholar and accomplished writer who won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015, retired as the DGO in November last year. He is credited for introducing multiple projects to enhance community-engagement in policing in the state — like Project Prahari in 2001, a community project by the police against killing of women after branding them as “witches”, a social evil that plagued parts of the state, and formation of the first Nagarik Committee in the mid-1990s, which paved the way for residents’ participation in policing.
Saikia got 269 votes out of 619, defeating six other candidates including former Assam CM Prafulla Mahanta’s wife Jayashree Goswami Mahanta. On his new role, Saikia told The Indian Express, “The century-old organisation has many challenges in the current times — and we have to overcome them. The young generation should be the prime movers in the development of Assamese language and culture.”