NEW DELHI: Advocate Debontina Sinha was in the sixth-standard when there was a huge ‘andolan’ (movement) in her state, Assam, for the recognition of the language of their community, Bishnupriya Manipuri.
Her parents explained to her what was going on around them and what stayed with her was the sacrifice made by a woman martyr, who was killed by police fire during the protests. The martyr’s name was Sudeshna Sinha.
Sudeshna Sinha who took part in the Bishnupriya Manipuri Bhasa Andolon 501 hours rail blocking movement, demanded the recognition of Bishnupriya Manipuri language along with other protestors. She was eventually killed while fighting for the cause, on March 16, 1996.
“There was a huge andolan all over the district of Karimganj and Silchar. My parents had told me about it and I vividly remember what all had happened. I swell in pride to say that her sacrifices and love for the people regarding an unflinching resolve to fight for the recognition of her language, ‘Bishnupriya Manipuri’, is unforgettable in the history of the northeast,” said Debontina.
“She hailed from Patharkandi village in Assam, and embarked on a selfless journey on March 16, 1996, to partake in Bhasa Andolan, only to fall victim to police firing at Kalkalighat railway station,” she explained.
Sinha (35), a lawyer by profession, is looking to pay homage to Sudeshna Sinha through a song that has been written by her mother Padmaja Sinha, who is a well-known artist and poet of the Barak Valley.
“I want people from other communities to be aware of who she is as well,” Debontina said.
Known as Doll Sinha in the music fraternity, Debontina opted for music as the medium as she herself is an artiste.
“I always wanted to pay her tribute and music is the best way to do so.”
The song came into fruition with the contributions of composer Dilip Sinha of Assam and director Mithun Eshwar, who hails from Kerala. The title of the song is “Jug ahaan poth”, which means – “It is a path of ages”.
“Tor thoi katkora, ema tharor punno bedi khoyat, Onor boli washakor, ridi chira chikari, Rokot jogan sruto srinigo, Jug ahan poth laloya ti akhkhula...”These lines in Bishnupriya Manipuri describe her struggles.Dilip Sinha, who hails from the same community, said that after the sacrifices made by Sudeshna Sinha, the language “gradually” gained some recognition. The video directed by Prabhu, who hails from Tamil Nadu’s Chennai, shot the video in the city itself.
It will feature Rajesh Ponnath, a differently-abled artist from Chennai, who will be painting Sudeshna’s portrait in the video. Ponnath, who didn’t know about Sudeshna, before he started working on the video, said: “I read about her online and was inspired that a woman in that age came ahead to take the lead of a significant language struggle. It is a very big deal.”
"She is a martyr among the people of the northeast. People pay their respects to her every year on March 16. As I said, she is a brave spirit that inspires every Bishnupriya Manipuri,” Debontina stressed.
Fighting for a cause
Martyr Sudeshna Sinha took part in Bishnupriya Manipuri Bhasa Andolon 501 hours rail blocking for the demand of recognition of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language and was eventually killed on March 16, 1996, as police opened fire.
The language of her community was later recognised in Assam and Tripura. It is yet to be recognised nationally.
Supreme Court Advocate Debontina Sinha, who hails from Silchar, is paying a musical tribute to Sudeshna Sinha in collaboration with artists from Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.