Gobindapur (Baksa), Feb. 1: The Asam Sahitya Sabha, which claims to be a unifying force for the sahitya sabhas of various indigenous communities, revealed a different face today.
No sahitya sabha, except Nepali Sahitya Sabha, participated in Asam Sahitya Utsab on the second day of the Sabha’s 72nd biennial session at Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Khetra here, raising questions on its claims of being a bridge for the literary bodies of all communities.
Among those who stayed away were the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, the Mising Agom Kebang (Mising Sahitya Sabha) and the Char Sapori Sahitya Parishad. The All Assam Minority Students Union also urged people to shun the convention.
The Bodo Sahitya Sabha did not participate, alleging disrespect towards the languages of indigenous communities. Its general secretary Kamalakanta Muchahary said they did not participate in the session as the Sabha had not heeded their demands and had always ignored them.
“Whenever the state government passed an act harmful to the languages of indigenous communities, the Sabha did not support us. When the state government decided to rehabilitate Bangladeshis in the BTAD area after the communal conflict, the Sabha remained mute. There have been many instances when we have felt hurt and so we decided not to participate in this session although I took part in the Sabha’s Ledo session last year,” he added.
The Mising Agom Kebang did not participate alleging that it had not received an invitation. Its general secretary Purnakanta Singte said, “We have not received any invitation from the Asam Sahitya Sabha. Besides being the secretary of Mising Agom Kebang, I am a lifetime member of Asam Sahitya Sabha. We had expected the Sabha to bring all the communities under one roof this time.”
Char Sapori Sahitya Parishad president Hafiz Ahmed also alleged that though they have been closely associated with the Sabha for years, they did not receive any invitation this year. He also alleged that the Sabha had ignored the contribution of char sapori people.
And no one seems to be willing to take responsibility for the situation. “It was the duty of the central committee to invite the other sahitya sabhas,” the secretary of the organising committee of Asam Sahitya Sabha, Dharanidhar Talukdar, said. The Sabha’s secretary Paramananda Rajbongshi could not be contacted.
The footfall at the Sabha venue today fell far short of the organisers’ expectations. More people were seen visiting the fairs — trade fair, book fair and science fair among others — put up around the main venue than the main pandal. The organisers are hoping for a better footfall tomorrow and the day after.
The trade fair stall owners staged a dharna to protest the entry fee of Rs 10, imposed only at their fair. The organisers later withdrew the fee.
Compared to the annual session of the Sabha at Ledo last year, the Barpeta Road session (a biennial session where a new executive committee is formed) appears to be much more organised in attending to the delegates who have arrived from different parts of the state.
Altogether 50 books were released at the Sabha book fair today. Agriculture minister Nilamoni Sen Deka inaugurated the book fair, named after Mamoni Raisom Goswami.
Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta inaugurated the crafts and science fair.