TEZPUR, Sept 27 � The date September 28, 1974, is a remarkable day for Bodos for on this day as many as 15 people sacrificed their lives for the Roman Script Movement from across the State. Amlaram Boro and Sibaram Boro of Barpeta, Haitharam Basumatary and Bisthuram Basumatary of Kokrajhar, Khansai Boro, Kanteswar Boro Budhbar Boro, Dina Boro and Manshi Goyari of Bijni, Ajendranath Basumatary and Nidhiram Narjary of Athgaon, Angelish Baglary of Orang, Sombar Mochahary of Darrang, Gobinda Narayan Basumatary of Garufela and Phoniram Daimari of Rowta Chariali under the present BTDA area made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of Assam Police and miscreants for the Roman script. Since then, in the later years, under the patronage of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Bodos have been observing the day as �Dikhar Shaan� which means �Martyrs� Day.�
It may be mentioned here that Bodos constitute the second largest community in the North-east region of India with centuries-old social, political and cultural heritage. The Bodo language is the mother tongue in the Bodo-dominated areas. It is an offshoot of the Sino-Tibetan language family and the first and only scheduled Sino language of the Indian Constitution. Records state that the Bodo-speaking community is well spread throughout Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, West Bengal, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Bihar and some adjoining parts of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The Bodo language has been recognised as the official language of the BTAD area and associate official language of the Assam Government since 1984. The Bodo Kachari kings used the �Deodhai� scripts to write this language. Cultural icon Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha wrote that �the Deodhai script, which is comparable to old Brahmin script specimens, is still available in the stone pillar wreckages and main gate to the royal palace of the Kachari kings in Dimapur.�
However, in the later years, the Bodos used the Roman, Assamese and Devanagiri scripts to write their language. The Roman script was used by the Christian missionaries to write the Bodo language in their religious books towards the last part of the 19th century. When Bodo-medium school education was started in 1963, the Assam Government imposed the Assamese language on the Bodos. However, the Bodos raised their demand for the use of the Roman script. The Bodo Sahitya Sabha, in its 15th annual conference held at Khelmati, Sonitpur with a three-day programme from March 15 in 1974, resolved to launch a movement, demanding the use of the Roman script which later became the Roman Script Movement. The movement turned into a vigorous one in September, 1974 in which as many as 15 people were killed in police firing at various places across the State.
But in the later period, due to the alleged apathy of the Government and the Education department, proper measures for the development of the Roman script were not taken up sincerely. Many Bodo-medium schools have been lying idle while many others are yet to be provincialised.
Expressing resentment over the issue, Kamalakanta Mochahari, secretary, Bodo Sahitya Sabha, said, �For the development of the Bodo language, we have placed demands like special reservation in selection of Bodo-medium school teachers through TET, supply of sufficient books to students, provincialisation of Bodo-medium schools, etc., before the Government, but the Government has totally failed to address our grievances. If our demands are not fulfilled, the supreme sacrifices of the 15 martyrs will not be recognised in a proper sense. So we appeal to the Government to deal with the issue sincerely.�