How Himanta Biswa Sarma led Assam government told the story of Lachit Borphukon

The story of Lachit Barphukan, an Ahom commander, known for his leadership in the Battle of Saraighat that thwarted an invasion by Mughal forces was promoted in a massive campaign.

Updated Mar 10, 2023 | 01:35 PM IST

How Himanta Biswa Sarma led Assam government told the story of Lachit Borphukon (Photo: Times Now)

"We (Assam) are not telling our story. If the Marathis can tell the world about Shivaji Maharaj and the Egyptians can tell their stories of mummy thereby amplifying it. People are willing to listen to our story," stated Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma , the Assam Chief Minister. This was told at an event held to commemorate a day when the Guinness World Record for the Largest Online photo album of handwritten notes on Lachit Borphukon certificate was presented in recognition of the success achieved by the Assam government in the essay writing event held to commemorate the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Barphukan in which around 42 lakh participants wrote on Lachit Barphukan and submitted the essays online to pay tributes to the legend.
The story of Lachit Barphukan, an Ahom commander , known for his leadership in the Battle of Saraighat that thwarted an invasion by Mughal forces was promoted in a massive campaign.
A little backdrop of how the events folded
Firstly, officially the journey started on 25th February 2022 when memorabilia of Lachit Borphukon was handed over to the then President, Ram Nath Kovind . Along with that, the Assam government started a massive advertisement to popularise Lachit locally and nationally in major renowned newspapers including the Times Of India. Later, printing and distribution of lakhs of booklets to all districts, where the District Magistrates distributed those among schools, colleges and intellectuals and other civil society organisations. The main agenda was to create a conversation surrounding Lachit and various activities including debate and drama were organised. On a personal scale, the Assam CM ran a massive social media massive campaign tweeting all the important happenings.
The biggest boast was the celebration of Lachit Borphukon from 23rd to 25th November in the national capital where Prime Minister Narendra Modi graced the occasion. Several renowned intellectuals and national leaders from various fields also graced the events. The idea was to make Lachit Borphukon mainstream in the national consciousness.
The essay entry: The biggest masterstroke
In all of the happenings last year, one significant event was by July 2022, the Assam CM thought of ways to involve the public to include in this process. The Assam Chief Minister gave a clarion call to the people to write on Lachit Borphukon on a dedicated website. It was his brainchild that led to the launching of a web portal and an app on Lachit Borphukon on 26th October 2022. The website along with the mobile app became very popular among the people. People were asked to submit their essays on Lachit Borphukon using the app and the website.
As per official data, from 26th October to 17th November there were one lakh submissions and by 22nd November, there were 20 lakh submissions. As MK Yadav, Managing Director, Assam Electronics Development Corporation (AMTRON) informs that servers had to be increased to 16 as entries reached 45.34 lakhs by 26th November 2022 midnight. Beyond the sheer number, the most dynamic facts were that 25 languages across the globe including Assamese, English, Bengali, Bodo, Hindi, Manipuri, Punjabi and even Korean were used to write the essays.
This massive exercise led to the Guinness World Record for Largest Online photo album of handwritten notes on Lachit Borphukon. Total figures include the number of images generated - 5789170. After an audit, 4490120 images. The number of handwritten notes - 42,94,350 notes with a time frame from October 26 to November 26, which is the date of the record attempt.
On the entire essay writing exercise, the Assam CM stated that the idea was to take Lachit Borphukon to the last mile. "All communities participated from Barak to Karbi Anglong to the Brahmaputra valley. There was also a parade by the Assam police. Many high-quality essays have been shown to me by the Deputy Commissioners and through which we have learnt new aspects of history. Much of the history surrounding the Battle of Saraighat involves participation from different communities even the Jaintia people. All these need to be promoted and through this exercise, we have got to learn so many things," added the Assam CM.
The different stories of Assam
The Assam Government led by Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has tried to tell the story of Assam predominately in three major aspects so far. The first story has been of Lachit Borphukon, the second story is of Charaideo Maidans and the third will be through Bihu. Charaideo, home to Royal burial mounds commonly known as pyramids of Assam was the original capital of the Ahom Kings built by Chaolung Sukhapa the founder of the Ahom dynasty. The nomination of the historic Charaideo Maidams has already met all the technical requirements as per UNESCO Secretariat for inclusion in the World Heritage Site list. At the initiative of CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Centre sent a proposal to UNESCO to recognize Charaideo Maidam of the Ahom kingdom as a World Heritage Site.
The third story will be promoting Bihu, the traditional Assamese culture on a worldwide level. Already, plans have been made as Assam will attempt a shot at Guinness World Records for the "largest Bihu dance in a single venue" with over 11,000 participants on April 14 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance.
"We will tell our story of Assam. This is not man-made, it is created within Assam by our ancestors. These are stories of bravery and high-level architecture," added the Assam CM.
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