Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has directed the state police to arrest West Bengal resident Garga Chatterjee after he made objectionable comments against Ahom dynasty and greater Assam founder Sukaphaa. The Assam police team is to leave for Kolkata today.
Garga Chatterjee, a self-proclaimed Bengali Nationalist in a couple of tweets, had compared Sukapha as a “Chinese invader”. He also accused, “taxpayers money used by Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in Assam to put up statues of a Chinese invader”. The tweets have been posted below.
Following the controversial tweets, an FIR had been lodged by Bhaskar Jyoti Gogoi in the Dibrugarh Police Station.
This is not the first Garga Chatterjee has created controversy with such remarks. After the deletion of the tweet, he tried to spin his narrative to Assam self-determination into a separatist movement by tagging it to extremist movements to diffuse his earlier remarks.
Chaolung Sukaphaa (r. 1228–1268), also Siu-Ka-Pha, the first Ahom king in medieval Assam, was the founder of the Ahom kingdom. A Tai prince originally from Mong Mao, the kingdom he established in 1228 existed for nearly six hundred years and in the process unified the various indigenous ethnic groups of the region that left a deep impact on the region. In reverence to his position in Assam’s history the honorific Chaolung is generally associated with his name (Chao: lord; Lung: great).
Since 1996 December 2 has been celebrated in Assam as the Sukaphaa Day, or Assam Day(Axom Divawkh ), to commemorate the advent of the first king of the Ahom kingdom in Assam after his journey over the Patkai Hills.
India was not a nation-state in medieval history and going by that Assam was also not a part of what we know of India today. However, the entire sub-continent had cultural and religious exchanges since the ancient times and this is the basis that draws a commonality between the contemporary Indians, that which connects Assam and Northeast to the greater Bharatvarsha – a shared history of culture, religion and language development through migration and assimilation. That transcends from mythological sources such as Mahabharata to anthropological and scientific sources along with a unified fight against the British citing a shared history.
To cite current geographical origins without understanding assimilation in an attempt to dismiss the founder of Ahom dynasty is wrong. Sukhaphaa carried a policy of organic assimilation to construct what is now the current Assam state by forging local alliances. The subsequent Kings post-Sukapha merged with the greater Assamese identity. This generalisation by the Kolkata "intellectual" also has a racial aspect to the mongoloid based features of the Northeast people that are called Chinese during racist encounters.
Such tweets apart from the malicious intent also reveal a lack of understanding of India’s Northeast but also calls upon the need to impart more knowledge on this aspect in the education sector. This also seeks to destroy indigenous self-determination as separatist politics by linking it with extremist tendencies with a flawed understanding of the Indian diversity that persisted pre-colonialism.
The irony, is both the extremist which Garga cites and himself miss out the fact that the contact between the provinces in history is the basis of the foundation of India. Not, the current geography that extends from Gujarat to Arunachal in a modern setting of nation- state.
There are other variants for the spelling of Sukaphaa/Sukapha. Inside Northeast has opted for the former.
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