Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday paid tributes to commemorate the death of 11 persons who had died in a police firing on May 19, 1961, in Silchar during the Bengali language movement.

“Language is the identity of a community,” Biswa wrote in a tweet. “I pay my respects to the 11 martyrs who gave their lives for their [Bengali] language. Let the idea of May 19 strengthen our attempts to build a multi-lingual, multi-cultural Assam where we can protect individualism in order to build a pluralistic society.”

The 11 persons were shot dead during a protest outside the Silchar Railway Station to oppose the imposition of Assamese as the official language in the Barak Valley under the 1960 Official Language Act.

The incident subsequently forced the Assam government to amend the Act and give the Bengali language official recognition in the Barak Valley districts, while Assamese continued as the official language for the rest of the state.

The day is also remembered as “Unishey May”.

Read: Why all Indians need to know about Silchar’s Unishey May ceremonies today