The Statue of Valour : A monument in honour of the national hero Lachit Borphukan

The Northeast Dialogue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Statue of Valour as a bronze monument measuring 125 ft high in memory of the distinguished Ahom military general Lachit Borphukan at Hollongapar in Jorhat, Assam, on 09 March 2024. This monument of respect for a military commander who defeted the Mughals in the Ahom-Mughal War, especially in the crucial Battle of Saraighat in 1671, took centuries to come to be.

Even after the independence of India, the story of courage and fearlessness of Lachit Borphukan could not percolate the ideologically determined filters of history. In the grand narrative of Independent India and its historiography, Lachit Borphukan found no space. He remained a regional hero, and his victory over the Mughals secured no space even in the footnotes of modern Indian history. His valour against the expansionist Mughals was exceptional and exemplified the pride of India. This victory was antithetical to the line of historiography that foregrounded the stories of defeats. Therefore, it suffered from deliberate inattention because this contested narrative disturbed the narrative of selectivism designed by the ’eminent historians’.

This kind of historiography made history an ideological project, not a space of objectivity. This exercise embodied the discontent because it practised exclusion. The exclusivity status was given to a chosen few who fit into their scheme of things or framework, but others whose merits are tested by history are pushed to anonymity. Lachit Borphukan suffered this fate and was cancelled from the written history of Independent India. This history that remained unquestioned and assumed the power of irreversibility has finally experienced the test of truth. It develops a scope for correcting the errors of historiography and recognising the suppressed voices and heroes who have contributed to this country’s unity, akhandata and civilisational prabah nityata. The Statue Of Unity for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, statue of Equality for Ramanujacharya, the Statue Of Valour for Lachit Borphukan, the project of unsung heroes of Bharat, etc., are the instances of effective response to the intentional errors of historiography.

The history of India is not a history of continuous defeat. It inheres the stories of defeat, victory and unceasing resistance. The civilisational continuity of Bharat establishes the truth of defiance, intransigence, struggle and sacrifice. The deeds of Lachit Borphukan are the instances of grit, courage and determination that ensured the civilisational continuity of Bharat at the teeth of annihilation and predatory forces that threatened Bharat’s civilisational existence. The truths of history long suppressed finally find utterance. This utterance leads the nation towards a Viksit Bharat where the heroes of Bharat’s history are given the respect and recognition that they deserved for so long. To the question of the importance of building monuments, it may be argued that the monuments are necessary because their visual presence develops in the current generation and the generations to come a sense of history and pride in Bharat’s past.From this pride comes the confidence of unity and the formation of a formidable identity. A nation without a strong sense of history is destined to repeat the mistakes of history. The Battle of Saraighat and the valour of Lachit Borphukan will now resonate in the minds of all Indians, and the monument built in his memory will remind them of the fierce resistance of their ancestors against the Mughals. The example of patriotism that he personified by showing his deepest love for the land will continue to inspire Indians for generations. He has become a symbol of courage, and through courage, the impossible is made achievable. So, Lachit Borphukan is a national hero.

However, it may appear too late to recognise him as a national hero by giving him the honour he long deserved. Knowing the historiographic process that the aftermath of India’s independence experienced, the delay does not surprise many. What is important in this connection is the monument built finally in his honour, which will immortalise him and his deeds in the collective imagination of the Indians. Finally, the history that experienced suffocation and lack of articulation for not falling within a specific ideological basket has found expression and national recognition. This is the new India that has taken up the journey of Viksit Bharat. 



Dr. Chandan K. Panda is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rajiv Gandhi University (A Central University), Itanagar.



Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)