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Citizenship Bill against Rupkonwar’s cultural pluralism: Sibnath Barman
 GOALPARA, Jan 20 - “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, Bill (CAB) which tends to divide the population on the basis of religion is against the cultural pluralism and eclecticism of the greater Assamese society as reflected in the writings, dramas, poems and music of the great cultural doyen Rupkowar Jyotiprasad Agarwala”, said thinker and writer Dr Sibnath Barman on the occasion of Silpi Divas organised by New Goalpara Kala Kristi Sangha here.

A unanimous resolution was also adopted in the open session of the programme opposing the Bill after several speakers contradicted the government’s stance by relating it to the ideals of Rupkowar Jyotiprasad Agarwala, the revolutionary cultural icon who stood for the cause of the masses through his vision and philosophy.

Barman in his keynote address said that the present complex socio-political situation that triggered the present political turmoil affecting the Assamese society is due to the wrong policies adopted by the government, particularly in supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Saying that the Bill creates division among the people on the basis of religion, which was against the ethos of the greater Assamese society, Dr Barman pointed out he is not against Hindu Bengalis, but migration should not be of such magnitude when it becomes difficult to absorb these people in the Assamese society and to resist their invading culture. Also, Jyotiprasad tried to convey the spirit of secularism through some of his writings and plays, which is against the present policies of the government of India which is trying to turn the country into a Hindu nation where diverse groups have to forgo their rights to practice their religion.

He also reflected that there has been a decrease in the number of Assamese-speaking people which has come down from 61% approximately to around 48 % due to the aggressive nationalism pursued by a section of people in our society. He added under the present circumstances, the relevance of the ideals of Jyotiprasad Agarwala have become very crucial for the survival of the greater Assamese society.

The chief guest of the programme, Issaqur Rahman, who is the joint secretary, All India Peoples’ Science Network said that the plays and writings of the Jyotiprasad Agarwala enriched the society during his time and inspired a whole generation of people in the region. He added that Jyotiprasad’s creative contributions have become more relevant in the contemporary Assamese society and people needed to imbibe his ideals in order to live in peace and harmony. He criticised the government’s Hindutva agenda and also pointed out that the Indian government has become anti-science.

Meanwhile, ex-MLA Dewan Joynal Abedin in his brief speech said that a chapter on the cultural icon should be included in the school textbooks so that school students can draw inspiration from his ideals and cultural contributions. Retired professor, Roma Kanta Baruah among others also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, the objectives of the open session were explained by Dr Ranjit Choudhury while the proceedings were coordinated by Dr Ratan Bhattacharya. Also, a poem written by Jyotiprasad was rendered by Nayan Moni Dutta. A cultural programme was also organised in the evening which saw a huge public gathering.

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