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  Asia-Pacific
Bhupen-da Came alive with Dhola-Sadiya Bridge Inauguration Ceremony
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
Guwahati: It was assumed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would declare the Dhola-Sadiya bridge of Assam in the name of Dr Bhupen Hazarika and was also apprehended that the Communist China would react to the project as it is hardly 100 km away from India-Tibet (China) border. And both turned into reality.

On completion of three years at office by NDA government in New Delhi, PM Modi arrived in Assam on 26 May and dedicated the river bridge over Lohit, a major tributary of mighty Brahmaputra, to the nation.

Significantly the Bhupen Hazarika Setu connecting Dhola to Sadiya is the longest bridge in the country.

Modi, who arrived in the far eastern part of the country during
morning hours from New Delhi and inaugurated the bridge, constructed with the budget of rupees 950 crore, naming it after legendary Assamese cultural personality Bhupen-da (as Dr Hazarika was popularly known among millions of his fans).

Addressing a public rally at Dhola in Tinsukia district, Modi
expressed hope that the 9.16 km long bridge would enhance connectivity between Assam & Arunachal Pradesh opening doors for economic developments. He also revoked that it would fulfill a vital requirement in terms of India’s defence perspective as it is near to the McMahon Line.

The bridge is expected to reduce the distance from Rupai (Assam) on NH- 37 to Meka-Roing (Arunachal Pradesh) on NH-52 by 165 km and thus give a major boost to overall economic developments in the alienated region. The Prime Minister also added that the sustainable infrastructure along with road & rail connectivity is extremely important for the development.

“The effort of the Union government is to fulfil the dreams & wishes
of the people,” commented Modi in presence of Assam governor
Banowarilal Purohit and the State chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal adding that the Centre was placing great emphasis on the development of waterways as well in the region.

Modi asserted that the eastern and north-eastern parts of India have the greatest potential for economic development. The enhanced connectivity between the region and other parts of the country, and also good communication linking the region with the economy of southeast Asia remains the priority for the Centre, he declared.

In fact, a number of individuals along with few civil society groups
urged the Centre to name the bridge after the music maestro, where the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) and the Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society (APLS) had separately advocated for honouring Bhupen-da. Both the organizations argued that the singer with an immortal voice emerged as a man of assimilation embracing various community & tribes of the region like a golden thread.

The PPFA pointed out that Dr Hazarika was born at Sadiya (on 8
September 1926) and he made the first film titled ‘Meri Dharam Meri Maa’ representing Arunachal. He was the most visible individual of the region for many decades. Preferred to declare himself as a Jajabor (wanderer), Bhupen-da successfully tried his hands in various creative space as a poet, lyricist, singer, music composer, author, journalist and filmmaker.

The APLS asserted out that Dr Hazarika worked relentlessly for unity & integrity for all caste, creed and religions through his songs and music till hid demise in 2011. He is hailed as the uncrowned king of the region’s cultural world. His songs continue to be popular even today as those contain the humanity above everything.

The bard of Brahmaputra is equally popular in other parts of India
along with Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Bhupen-da got PhD in mass communication (1952) from Columbia University, New York. He was conferred on Padamshree (1977) and Padma Bhushan (2001) besides Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992), the first and only one from northeast India to receive the honour till date.

The child prodigy sang and performed in ‘Indramaloti’, the second
Assamese talkie film made by Jyotiprasad Agarwala in 1939. Hazarika penned thousands of lyrics and rendered his crisp voice for nearly 1500 songs. He had composed music for 36 Assamese films with few Bengali (Jiban Trishna, Jonakir Alo, Mahut Bandhure, Kari o Komal, Ekhane Pinjar, Dampati etc) and Hindi (Aarop, Ek Pal, Rudaali, Papiha, Darmiyaan, Daman, Gajagamini etc ) movies.

As a director, some of his outstanding Assamese films include ‘Era
Batar Sur’ (1956), ‘Shakuntala’ (1960), ‘Pratidhwani’ (1964),
‘Lotighoti’ (1967), ‘Chick Mick Bijuli’ (1970), ‘Mon Projapati’
(1978), ‘Siraj’ (1988) etc. He won President’s award for
‘Shakuntala’, ‘Pratidhwani’ and ‘Lotighoti’ as a film maker. Bhupen-da was honoured with best music director award for ‘Chameli Memsaab’ in 1976 (It was the first national award in music direction for the Assamese film industry).

Assam government conferred two prestigious honours (Shrimanta
Shankardev Award 1988 and Asom Ratna Award 2008) on him. Asom Sahitya Sabha, the highest literary forum of Assam, offered the coveted post of the President to Bhupen-da in 1993. For a five year term he was appointed as the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1999 and was also elected to the State Legislative Assembly in 1967.

Soon after the Chinese aggression in 1962, Bhupen-da visited the
Kameng locality of Arunachal and created his eternal lyrics
‘.... Aaji Kameng Simanta Dekhilo, Dekhi Shatrur Pashutwa
Chinilo .... (Seen today the Kameng border and realized the barbarity of enemies meaning Red China) ’ paying homage to the soldiers, who sacrificed their lives in the war. He also advocated for a watchful force at the border area for the security of the nation.
And the reaction from Beijing came accordingly after the grand
inauguration of the Bhupen Hazarika Setu.

The Chinese administration asked New Delhi to be cautious and exercise restraint over building infrastructure in and around Arunachal, which they claim it to be southern art of Tibet. It was however none other than rhetoric as Beijing continues making noises, where last time it did so to oppose Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang few months back.



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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at navathakuria@gmail.com

 

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