ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS An eye-catching orange-hued hoarding in the national capital’s bus stops, Metro train coaches and other prime public spaces is arousing curiosity among Delhites and tourists.
The hoarding depicts a roaring warrior—Lachit Borphukan—in commanding action with his ‘hengdang’—a samurai sword-like machete used by Ahom soldiers in medieval Assam—along with his fellow soldiers in a war-like situation.
Not too many Indians know about Lachit.
Born on November 24, 1622, the ‘Borphukan’ (or commander-in-chief) died at the age of 50 but not after he destroyed the Mughal naval flotilla on the mighty Brahmaputra river at Saraighat in Guwahati.
Undisputed masters of almost the entire undivided India of that time, but plagued by a crisis of the ‘mansabdari’ and the ‘jagirdari’ system, the Mughals desperately needed more and more fertile land.
The most fertile stretch of land lay across the Brahmaputra Valley but it was under the control of the Ahoms who were well-known for their guerilla-fighting prowess.
Oral history says 17 attempts were made by the Mughals to wrest control of this fertile swath but to no avail.
While the wave of Mughal invasions began around 1641, the Battle of Saraighat of 1671 is very important in the sense that so overwhelming was the Ahom victory and so crippling was the effect on the Mughals that no further attempt was made to annex Assam.
While Lachit may have been accorded his long overdue recognition at the national level, another hero of the Battle of Saraighat—Atan Burhagohain—the Prime Minister of the Ahom kingdom, remains unsung.
A three-day celebration is being organized in the national capital from November 23-25 to mark the 400th birth anniversary of the warrior— known to a greater or lesser degree by only the Assamese and other Northeasterners.