The National Defence Academy (NDA), ever since 1999 has been conferring the best passing out cadet with the Lachit Borphukan gold medal,' named after soldier Lachit Borphukan. However, the iconic personality has been lesser known, due to his lack of presence in history books.
Borphukan was a commander in the erstwhile Ahom kingdom and is known for his leadership in the 1671 battle of Saraighat that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by Mughal forces to capture Assam.
During the last phase of the Battle of Saraighat 1671, when the Mughals attacked the Assamese forces through the river in Saraighat, many Assamese soldiers began losing their will to fight. It was Lachit's clarion call to all the soldiers that made them fight till their last breath, ultimately resulting in the defeat of the Mughals.
The Battle of Saraighat 1671 was known to be fought on the banks of Brahmaputra in Guwahati. Lachit Borphukan, recognised for an proficient strategist, was selected by the King of Ahom to be the commander-in-chief of the Army. Led by the braveheart, the Ahom Atmu used tactics of guerilla warfare and wise terrain choices to come out victorious in the battle against the Mughals.
The well-eqipped Army of the Mughals failed to win against the Ahom Army in the first phase of the way. It is known that the courageous Lachit Borphukan was also offered a bribe of a lakh rupees to abandon his Army, but, he refused to surrender. The Mughals had 30000 foot soldiers, 15000 archers, 18000 horsemen, 2000 cannons, 40 large boats and 21 high ranking officers.
When Lachit Borphukan got grievously injured, the Ahoms started withdrawing. It was then that their general Lachit said, "if you want to go back you are free, but I even in spite of my hurt will fight until death. Go back and tell king Chakradhwaj that I fought with determination till my last breath!" The motivational speech moved his Army who then decided to go back and fight the massive Mughal Army.
According to historians, at a crucial time of the battle, Lachit Borphukan feel extremely sick and was even advised to not go to the battlefield. However, he realised that it would break the spirit of his Army and he had then said, “When my countrymen are suffering from invasion, and when my army is fighting and sacrificing its life, how can I think about resting my body due to a mere illness? How can I think about going home to my wife and children when my entire country is in trouble?”
Lachit Borphukan passed away soon after the war.