Literary body apologises over its Assamese-Bengali 'gamosa'
Assamese-Bengali 'gamosa'

Guwahati: The Bangla Sahitya Sabha, Assam, (BSSA) on Tuesday apologised for hurting sentiments through its act of cutting Assamese and Bengali ‘gamosas’ (scarves) into half and stitching them together to felicitate guests as the issue led to sharp criticism from several quarters.

The BSSA maintained that the concept was borrowed from a similar specially stitched scarf used by another organisation more than a year ago, which had not led to any controversy then.

The organisation had used the stitched scarves to honour guests at its first state-level conference held here on Sunday. Notable among the attendees was state Education Minister Ranoj Pegu.

One half of the scarf was an Assamese ‘gamosa’ with a red border on a white cloth, while the other half was of a red-and-white checked pattern, used by the Bengali community.

In a statement, BSSA working president Khagen Chandra Das and general secretary Prasanta Chakraborty said, “We had adopted this idea as symbolic of harmony between Barak-Brahmaputra valley. However, a section of people of the state has not accepted this concept.”

“We apologise for hurting anyone’s sentiments unintentionally and we shall be more careful in the future to ensure no recurrence of any such incidents,” they added.

The BSSA claimed that they had borrowed the idea of the special stitched scarf from a similar one used to honour dignitaries at a programme in Silchar by another organisation about one-and-half-year ago.

Members of the reception sub-committee of the BSSA had come across photographs of the Silchar event on social media, in which a minister was also shown receiving the scarf with a smile.

While there was no controversy back then, it has led to sharp reactions now, the BSSA statement pointed out, adding that it hoped that the issue will subside as it apologized over the matter.

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Though the organisers had said it was done to symbolise harmony between the two communities, many criticised the act, claiming it was an insult to the Assamese ‘gamosa’, and that such acts will increase the divide.

Protests against the act were held in various parts of the state on Monday including Guwahati, Nagaon, Dibrugarh, Golaghat and Bongaigaon by organisations such as Jatiya Yuba Shakti (JYS), the youth wing of Assam Jatiya Parishad, All Assam Moran Students Union and Bir Lachit Sena.

Pegu had said on Sunday that the controversy was “unnecessary” as BSSA had sewn the two pieces of cloth as a “goodwill gesture” as they identify themselves as Bengalis of Assam.

Also Read | Controversy erupts over stitching Assamese, Bengali scarves together

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