People shouldnt dispute over languages: Assam CM

Guwahati, Oct 26: Amid the ongoing language controversy in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday that a language unites masses and there should not be a dispute over it.

He made the remarks while campaigning for the October 30 by-elections to the five Assembly seats.

On Tuesday, Sarma addressed two election rallies in Thowra where the Congress-turned-BJP leader Sushanta Borgohain is contesting.

The Chief Minister told the people that they should not feel bad about a hoarding in Assamese language that was defaced in Cachar district which led to the arrest of two youths.

The hoarding on the "Jal Jivan Mission" also led to protests from various organisations including the Barak Democratic Front (BDF) and the All Bengali Youth and Students' Organisation (ABYSO).

In reaction, few people in Guwahati defaced a signboard in Bengali.

"We should work together for an undivided India and a united Assam. We would be very cautious and serious that no one should do anything which may hurt the sentiments of the people of Brahmaputra Valley or the Barak Valley. If anyone hurts the sentiments of other communities, we would only create a difference between the people of diverse communities," the Chief Minister said.

"If by mistake a textbook was published in Bengali in the Brahmaputra Valley or a text book in Assamese language circulated in the Barak Valley, people should refrain themselves from giving any kind of reactions.

"Language brings people closer, maintains peace and harmony and if due to any minor reason language caused any division among the people, there would be no significance of a language. More people from Assam overcoming the lacunae in languages must be successful in the all India competitions in education and jobs including in Army and civil services," he added.

Reacting on the comments of eminent Assamese litterateur Nagen Saikia's call for the separation of the Barak Valley from Assam, the Chief Minister said that he did not want to comments and that it was his personal opinion.

After the Cachar incident, Saikia, winner of the Sahitya Academy Award and former president of the Asom Sahitya Sabha, the state's highest literary body, had suggested the separation of the Barak Valley to maintain peace and tranquility in the state.

The All Assam Students' Union had also objected to the defacing of the hoarding, claiming that it was an insult to the Assamese language.

Meanwhile, another hoarding of the Industry Department written in both English and Assamese, put up in the neighbouring Karimganj district, was removed after the protests last week.

Over four million people, mostly Bengali speaking, reside in the three districts of Barak Valley region -- Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakhandhi.