Name the new bridge over Brahmaputra after Bhupen Hazarika

It was disappointing that the square at Jalukbari near Saraighat, connecting the historic Saraighat Bridge, Gauhati University, the road to Guwahati and the by-pass around the city was named Rajiv Chowk. Not because we dis-respect the Late Indian Prime Minister who administered the Assam Accord to end six struggling years of Assam agitation in 1985. It is because the location is very special to the Assamese soul, to Axomiya Jatiotabad; after all it is around this place that one of the greatest history chapters of Assamese freedom was written way back in 1671.

Photo: Luit Chaliha

A relatively weak Assamese Army under leadership of Lachit Borphukan and Atan Burhagohain, formed by coalition of Ahoms, Garos, Jaintias, Nagas and other tribes had destroyed the mighty Mughal invasion right at this place. The place symbolizes the spirit and Freedom of Assamese nationalism, of a greater united Assamese society. Yet, we gave away the important place of history to be named after a Prime Minister whose only noted contribution towards Assam probably is his signature in the Assam Accord, that remains unfulfilled till date. The secessionists might even make a point here if they complain that naming of this symbolic place was deliberately done to be reminded, more than anything else, about who now rules the land and the people, whose ancestors guarded their freedom with ferocious valor and dignity. Anyway, the fact remains that, this place of such glorious history was neither named after the great General Lachit nor any other stalwart of the region. No one even questioned when Rajiv Chowk became the name.

On a side note, it is not just Assam which has faced this dirty political propaganda of the Congress party in naming and re-naming everything with a Gandhi Surname. In the last two decades itself, more than 450 different Central and State Government programmes, projects, etc have been named after the three members of Gandhi family, – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. As per reports, over 60 Government schemes and projects, over 100 universities and educational institutions, 50 different awards of national and state level, 30 sports tournaments and trophies; 20 stadiums and sports ground, 40 hospitals and medical institutions, 70 roads, buildings and landmarks, different ports and airports, 12 National parks and sanctuaries and many more have been named after the three Gandhis. More than 60% of those are named after Rajiv Gandhi alone. In a well-planned and methodical way, the Congress Party named everything with its icons to gain unfair advantage over other political parties, erasing out the contribution and efforts of almost everyone else in this nation. Most importantly, Gandhi now longer means the real Gandhi, the Mahatma. The surname was hijacked forever.

In Assam, Rajiv Chowk name is not a single example; there were others in the past too. In 1962, the first modern sports stadium was constructed in Guwahati with outstanding efforts of the Architect of Modern Assam Radha Gobinda Barua. Yet it was named Nehru Stadium after Late Jawaharlal Nehru, who had with fake tears almost given away Assam to China the same year when the Indian army fled from the battlefield. No matter what reasoning the liberals may cite now, – it was a shame.

Coming to the point, when the Bard of Brahmaputra passed away last Saturday, it was as if the Assamese became alive once again. United and irrespective of caste, tribe, religion, community or background, millions shed tears for the much beloved Bhupen-Da. Over 50,000 people who spontaneously attended and millions watching live streaming on the TV shed tears when the Maestro’s last rites were being performed at the site in Gauhati University campus.

Coincidentally Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s last rites were done in the same Saraighat area, just a short walk from Saraighat Bridge or ironically, from Rajiv Chowk. Plans are already put in place to transform the area into one similar to Raj Ghat. However all probability, there would arise space and land crunch with a six-lane flyover and a new bridge over Brahmaputra being constructed nearby.And here in lies an opportunity for the Assamese to pay a small tribute and honor in remembrance of beloved Bhupen-da.

The new alternate bridge over Brahmaputra is being constructed quite close to the place where late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s last rites were done. The new bridge over Bhupen Da’s beloved Luit has not been named yet as construction has just begun some months back.

If Lachit had brought back the spirit of freedom, fighting by the Brahmaputra, Bhupen Hazarika had brought back the spirit of unity and nationalism by singing about the Brahmaputra, the land and people.

We have already insulted a lot of our own historical figures by not giving proper recognition or by sense of absolute negligence. We do not need another new Rajiv Chowk at Saraighat. Let the new bridge not be named after another Gandhi or any political figure.

Let this demand be the voice, heard at all levels and let no more political propaganda pollute the efforts of a true legendary figure and the honour we have for him.

Let the new bridge over Brahmaputra be named after Dr. Bhupen Hazarika; let it be the bridge of love, nationalism, brotherhood and all good things which Bhupen-Da symbolized for his motherland and people.

Architect of Modern AssamAssamAssam agitationAtan BurhagohainBhupen HazarikaCongress PartyGauhati UniversityIndira GandhiJawaharlal NehruLachit BorphukanNehru StadiumNew bridge over BrahmaputraRajiv ChowkRajiv GandhiSaraighat Bridge