Time to time in India many great legendry personalities and patriots were born as India’s civilisation is one of the oldest in the world and the country is endowed with all types of resources including human resource. So many foreigners invaded India at times.
One of them is Lachit Borphukan who was born on 24 November 1622 at Gargaon (near Sivasagar of Assam). His courage and dedication, no Indians in general and people of north-east in particular can forget. In commemorative of his dedication, every year on 24 November Lachit Divas (Lachit Day) is celebrated across the State (Assam) as well as the victory of the Ahom Army at the Battle of Saraighat (now near Guwahati). Today his statue may be seen in many places of Assam including at National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla of Maharashtra. Also the best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy – the Lachit Borphukan Gold Medal- is conferred in his name every year from 1999.
Lachit Borphukan’s name and Ahom rule are closely associated. It is pertinent to mention that, Ahom rule started in upper part of Assam (popularly known as Upper Assam) in 1228 with the entering of a person named Sukaphaa with his followers, a Tai prince originally from Mong Mao (which is now included within the Dehong-Dai Singhpho Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan in Peoples Republic of China). He established his relation with the local persons by making them friends. It is believed that Sukaphaa and his people helped by imparting knowledge and practical demonstration to the local people for cultivation of wet rice which earlier were not known to them thoroughly. With the pace of time, Ahom kings expanded their base in other parts of Assam. As religious faith Hinduism influenced Ahom and Assamese language gained popularity all over the State. Literatures show Ahom rulers never neglected their defense base rather they gave importance for the protection of their territory, as sequel time to time different invaders attacked Assam but could not succeed. Against the back-drop, it may be mentioned that in 1962, our leaders could not anticipate strong defense-force after independence as sequel China took the advantage triggering lot of damage to our properties, killing of our soldiers, forcefully occupying land etc. However, Ahom rule continued up to 1826, and after the Treaty of Yandaboo with the British, Assam was under British rule.
As mentioned already during Ahom rule, a great army general as well as a patriot Lachit Borphukan was born. The people of India remember Lachit Borphukan because of his valour, sincerity, patriotism and dedication for which the Battle of Saraighat (a naval battle) needs to be mentioned here. The Battle was fought in 1671 between the Mughal Empire (led by Raja Ramsingh I), and the Ahom Kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan) on the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, now in Guwahati. The various literatures reveal that the Ahom Army was not strong in comparison to the Mughal Army in spite of this, by meticulous uses of the terrain, guerrilla tactics, psychological warfare, military intelligence etc., the Mughal Army was defeated. The Battle of Saraighat was the last battle in the major attempt by the Mughals to spread their rule into Assam. The most memorable event of the Battle was that Lachit Borphukan beheaded his own maternal-uncle who was also with him during the war. The incident happened like this, to foil the attack Lachit ordered to construct an earthen wall for fortification under the supervision of his own maternal uncle within the night. When Lachit came at mid-night to take stock of the situation, he found his maternal uncle was telling others to have nap because of mid-night. Lachit became furious and immediately, beheaded his maternal uncle in presence of all the persons uttering, “My maternal uncle is not greater than my country”. In Assamese the famous saying is “Desotkoi Momai Dangor Nohoi”. That night with Lachit’s initiative (in spite he had fever), the fort was completed. This is reflected as his sincerity, seriousness, dedication and patriotism. He was great hero, a great patriot and a great Army General.
Dr Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor & Head (CPME),NIRD & PR ( Govt. of India), Hyderabad, India
Former Associate Professor, Eritrea
Former Assistant Prof, Govt. Degree College, Tripura, India
Former Senior Planning Officer, Govt of Assam, India