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Lachit Borphukan – the Ahom general who dared to defy the Mughal Army

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 Lachit Borphukan

Lachit Borphukan is known for his leadership in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671 which led to the rout of the Mughal forces and liberation of the Ahom kingdom in the Brahmaputra valley in eastern India.

On 24 November each year, Lachit Divas is celebrated all over Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan– the legendary Ahom general.

Lachit Borphukan was born on 24 November 1622. His father Momai Tamuli was the commander-in-chief of the Ahom army in Assam. He was an able administrator and the first Borbarua – a new office created during the rule of the Ahom king Prataap Singha, which clubbed the function of the Chief Executive Officer and the Lord Chief Justice. His sons Lachit Borphukan and Laluksola Borphukan went on to play a significant role in the History of Assam.

The secret of Momai Tamuli’s success was his extreme loyalty and devotion to his master. Momai Tamuli’s son, Lachit Borphukan inherited these qualities from his father and always tried to give his best in every task he undertook.

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When Lachit grew up he was given the responsibility of serving as the Soladhara Barua (scarf-bearer) – the modern-day equivalent of a private secretary to the Ahom King. He also served as the Superintendent of the Stable of Royal Horses and the Royal Household guards before being appointed as the commander of the Ahom Army.

By the time Lachit Borphukan was appointed commander of the Ahom Army, the Mughals occupied Guwahati and forced the Ahom to sign the Treaty of Ghilajharighat in 1663 which imposed harsh conditions on the Ahom kingdom. King Chakradhwaj Singha resolved to rid the entire region of the Mughal occupation. His wish was fulfilled by Lachit Borphukan.

Battle of Saraighat

Lachit raised the Ahom army to defeat the Mughals and successfully took over Guwahati which used to be under their control. Emperor Aurangzeb was so furious to hear the news of the defeat that he sent an expeditionary force under Ram Singh to teach Lachit a lesson. However, despite being numerically and technologically superior, the Mughal army did not stand a chance against the guerrilla tactics of the Ahom forces led by Lachit Borphukan.

Ram Singh was convinced that it would be possible to defeat the Ahom forces if their commander was removed so he resorted to subterfuge and fired an arrow carrying a letter written by him into the Ahom Camp. Coincidentally the mischievous letter containing a message that Lachit had been paid one lakh rupees to evacuate Guwahati reached King Chakradhwaj Singha who for a moment thought of eliminating his commander Lachit Borphukan for negotiating with the enemy but was prevented from doing so by his Prime Minister Atan Buragohain who convinced him that it was most likely a trick played by the Mughals to create a rift between King Chakradwaj Singh and his valiant commander and thus divide the Ahom Army which under Lachit Borphukan had successfully fought the Mughals thus far.

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Having exhausted all options Ram Singh decided to attack Guhawati with the help of a naval fleet in the Brahmaputra River. He was confronted by an Ahom flotilla led by Lachit Borphukan near Saraighat. Outnumbered and outgunned the Ahom soldiers began to lose their will to fight. Some of them began to retreat. Despite being severely ill, Lachit himself boarded a boat and intervened to prevent his troops from leaving.

Lachit lost his cool when one of his men offered to take him to safety and loudly proclaimed that instead of running away he would rather die for his king and country. “You may go back and tell the king that his general fought well till his last breath”, he said. Having said so Lachit put together a fleet of seven boats and moved forward to attack the Mughal fleet.

True to the saying success is for those who seek it, in the end, Lachit Borphukan and his men managed to change a near-certain defeat into victory and the Mughals were forced to retreat. Lachit Borphukan ordered his men to chase the withdrawing Mughal army till the Manas River which demarcated the western boundary of the Ahom kingdom but made sure that his troops did not attack the retreating enemy. 

Lachit Borphukan eventually died in 1672 and was laid to rest at the Lachit Maidam constructed by King Udayaditya Singha in the same year at Hoolungapara, 16 Km away from Jorhat in Assam

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Even today the best cadet at the National Defence Academy is awarded the Lachit Borphukan gold medal which was first instituted in 1999 by General VP Malik to inspire future defence officers by setting an example of Lachit Borphukan’s heroism and sacrifice.

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Taazakhabar News Bureau
Taazakhabar News Bureau
Taazakhabar News Bureau is a team of seasoned journalists led by Neeraj Mahajan. Trusted by millions readers worldwide.


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