Context: An animated masterpiece, titled ‘Lachit: The Warrior,’ chronicling the heroic exploits of the iconic Ahom general Lachit Barphukan, has earned a prestigious spot in the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2023, set to unfold in Goa. Crafted over 19 minutes, the film, directed and written by Partha Sarathi Mahanta, an Indian Police Service officer in Assam, is poised to captivate a global audience with its screening.
About Lachit Borphukan:
- Lachit Barphukan was born on 24 November 1622 in Charaideo, Assam. He was the son of Momai Tamuli Borbarua and Kunti Moran.
- His father Momai Tamuli Barbarua served as the commander-in-chief of the Ahom army and held the prestigious position of the last Barbarua (Phu-Ke-Lung) of upper-Assam under Prataap Singha.
- Lachit Barphukan’s journey in the service of the Ahom state began with his appointment as the commander of ‘Hanstidhara Tamuli’ by the state minister.
Battles against the Mughals:
- The invasion by Mir Jumla, acting on the orders of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, marked a dark chapter for Assam.
- The Mughals captured Garhgaon, the capital of the Ahom Dynasty, leading to the signing of the treaty of Ghilajharighat in 1663.
- This treaty imposed territorial concessions, war indemnities, an annual tribute, and the distressing demand to send the Ahom king’s daughter to the imperial harem in Delhi, deeply denting Assamese nationalist pride.
- Chakradhwaj Singha, determined to reclaim Assam, initiated extensive preparations by training soldiers, bolstering the armament industry, and constructing boats.
- In 1667, Lachit, was entrusted with leading the Ahom army, holding the rank of Barphukan.
- Launching a swift and aggressive campaign, the Ahom army, under Lachit’s command, destroyed Mughal outposts until reaching the pivotal target of Guwahati.
- The subsequent siege culminated in a frontal attack on November 4, 1667, resulting in a victory for the Ahoms and the expulsion of Mughal forces beyond the river Manas.
- In 1669, Mughal troops, led by Ram Singh (Battle of Alaboi), arrived to launch an attack.
- Despite the Ahom army not being fully prepared, Lachit Barphukan, with wisdom and readiness, faced the potential threat.
- The Ahom forces suffered losses, but Lachit, though momentarily upset, remained undeterred and resolute in his commitment to duty and bravery.
- Utilizing the natural advantage of hillocks along the Brahmaputra, earthen ramparts were erected to create a protective ring around the city.
- The subsequent period saw sporadic engagements until the famous Battle of Saraighat in March 1671.
- In the final stages of the Battle of Saraighat, as Mughals attacked from the river.
- Lachit, aboard seven boats, confronted the Mughal fleet, urging his soldiers to fight. His inspiring words reignited their spirit, leading to a desperate battle on the Brahmaputra.
- Lachit’s courageous leadership proved triumphant. The Mughals were forced to retreat from Guwahati.
- Following a strategic decision, the Borphukan instructed his men not to attack the retreating Mughal army.
- The courage and foresight displayed by Lachit in the Battle of Saraighat continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of the Assamese people, underscoring his indispensable role in shaping their nation.
- In recognition of his leadership and valour, the Lachit Barphukan gold medal was instituted in 1999, awarded to the best cadet from the National Defence Academy.