By Matters India Reporter
Tezpur, October 3: The Assam Christian Forum has condemned the vandalism of a statue of St John Bosco kept in front of the Bishop’s House in Tezpur, the cultural capital of the northeastern Indian state.
This is another incident of increasing intolerance in Assam and it has “put us all in anxiety,” says Allen Brooks, spokesperson of the forum.
The Catholic lay leader said that “anti-social elements” vandalized the statue on September 29 night. The statue depicted the founder of Salesian congregations with two boys, but the miscreants broke the heads of the boys and made a gaping hole in the saint’s torso.
“It is shocking that such an incident has happened in Tezpur, which is considered the cultural capital of Assam,” Brooks told Matters India on October 2.
He said a First Information Report has been registered with the police. He also expressed the Christian community’s hope that the police would book the culprits soon and restore their faith and security.
Brooks recalled a similar incident in August 2015 when the saint’s statue was desecrated in Guwahati.
Assam is currently ruled by the coalition headed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, the political arm of Hindu radical groups.
Tezpur (city of blood), some 175 km northeast of the state’s commercial hub of Guwahati, is an urban agglomeration in Sonitpur district. It is the largest of the north bank towns of Assam.
Tezpur diocese was created in 1964.
Saint Don Bosco revered by all religious communities in northeastern India where Salesian missionaries have worked since 1920s in all social sectors, especially in education.
Brooks said such incidents shamed the land of Bishnu Rabha, Joytiprasad Agarwala and Phani Sarma, Assam’s cultic figures.
Bishnu Prasad Rabha (1909-1969) is known for his literary and cultural contributions towards the indigenous Assamese communities. He advocated peoples’ cultural movement and drew heavily from different genres of classical and folk cultural traditions of the state.
Jyoti Prasad Agarwala (1903–1951) was a noted Assamese playwright, songwriter, poet, writer and film maker from Assam. He was considered as Assamese cultural icon.
Phani Sarma (1910–1970) was an Assamese theatre actor, playwright, film actor and director. He appeared in the first film made in Assamese cinema, Joymati, in 1935.