Marching ahead with the spirit of Swatantra Bharat

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Marching ahead with the spirit of Swatantra Bharat

by Nava Thakuria

It was probably two decades back, when a group of journalists and
Guwahati-based patriots marched on a street of Guwahati to celebrate
the Independence Day. As a number of separatist armed militant outfits
imposed a general strike on the day (that was the way the ethnic
insurgents made them visible in the public domain continuing their
decades long armed struggle against New Delhi) the entire city wore a
deserted look. Markets, business centers, private vehicles and even
the roads were empty as the militants, through their media statements
(which were published with special focus in the local morning
newspapers), threatened the people not to join the observation.
The group raising a single national flag (Tri-colours were unavailable
at that time in the  market and even the people did not keep the flag
in residences as it was then assumed as a volatile article to procure
from any sources) marched from Ambari to the bank of historic
Dighalipukhuri. A photojournalist took a snap of the march and it was
then sent to a Delhi-based editor for use. The editor, who might have
had no idea of the then trouble-torn northeast India, asked a strange
question, why there was so little number of participants in the march.
In reality, the editor missed the valid point that the small group of
people came to the street defying the diktat of armed militants, who
were trying to run a parallel administration in the alienated region.
One may raise an intriguing question, were the editors of Assam
sensitive and responsible enough. The newspapers (private news
channels were yet to fully bloom in the region) in Guwahati probably
were sensitive but not responsible. Prior to  I-Day or Republic Day,
as if the editor (or concerned reporters) were eagerly waiting for the
statement from separatist militants boycotting the auspicious days. It
always made newspaper headlines, but when the brave and patriotic
citizens tried to raise voices against the militants’ diktat, the same
editors behaved as unwanted items. So when the small group of patriots
started observing the sacred days by hoisting & unfurling the
Tri-colour, most of the editors either avoided the news or gave it an
insignificant space.
The situation did not improve, even when the Assamese satellite news
channels entered into the scenario after some years. Rather they
started often misrepresenting and disrespecting the spirit. As usual,
the news channels repeated the militant’s version ‘why celebration of
I-Day and R-Day was useless’ prior to both the revered occasions. Many
news channels later made it possible for some top militant leaders to
address their audience ‘live’. The reporters, equipped with high
resolution cameras, callously asked the students what were their
programs on I-Day and R-Day (as those were simple holidays because of
the militant’s imposed total shut down), but they did not simply
remember that one Assamese young girl sacrificed her life for the same
Tri-colour. The reporters (from both the print and electronic media)
and their editors hardly formulate a simple question to those young
people, had they not heard of  Birbala Kanaklata!
For some times, it was a large number of outlawed militant outfits
including United Liberation Front of Assam, National Democratic Front
of Bodoland, Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, Manipur People’s
Liberation Front, Kanglei Yaol Kanna Lup, Kangleipak Communist Party,
People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, People’s Revolutionary
Party of Kangleipak/Progressive, Revolutionary People’s Front, United
People’s Party of Kangleipak, United National Liberation Front of
Manipur, Tripura People’s Democratic Front, National Liberation Front
of Twipra, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Front of Meghalaya, Garo
National Liberation Army, etc which declared the general strike across
northeast India on both the national days on 15 August and 26 January
and called upon the people to boycott as well as prevent the
celebration as a mark of solidarity against New Delhi.
But braving the gun-toting militants and their threats, Journalists’
Forum Assam (JFA) appealed to the north-eastern  people to celebrate
both the days defying the militants’ decree. JFA argued that a number
of martyrs from Assam including Piyali Phukan, Maniram Dewan, Piyali
Barua, etc stepped up movements against British domination.
Extraordinarily brave Kanaklata Barua, Mukunda Kakoti, Kushal Konwar,
Tilak Deka, Bhogeswari Phukanani, Nidhanu Rajbangshi, Kamala Miri,
Lerela Boro, Madan Barman, Rauta Kachari, Hemoram Patar, Gunavi
Bordoloi, Thagi Sut, Balaram Sut, etc laid down their lives for the
honour of Tri-colour. JFA president Rupam Barua, who conceptualized
the model to oppose the rebel’s diktats, asserted that  Tri-colour  is
the symbol of our common strength. If we ignore the sacrifice of
martyrs it would only indicate our ungratefulness to them. Once
started with a small group of journalists (including this writer),
the celebration at the city-based press club premises slowly attracted
more like-minded fellow Guwahatians, including many children, to join
in the occasion (simultaneously with the government celebrations),
where the Tri-colour continues to be hoisted and participants taken
out the processions raising the flags in hands with fanfare.
Veteran author-journalists Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah, Dhirendra Nath
Chakravarty, Naresh Rajkhowa, Nirupoma Borgohain , Kanaksen Deka, MS
Prabhakar, Sabita Goswami, Preeti Barua, Bhabani Goswami, etc took the
lead and senior scribes  Hiten Mahanta, Ranen Kumar Goswami, Ajit
Patowary, Premadhar Sarma, Geetartha Pathak, Champak Borbora, Mukul
Kalita, MK Goswami, Bhupen Bargohain, Sabita Lahkar, Rubie Barua Das,
Raman Bora, Bijay Bora, Anup Sarma, DN Singh, Pranabjit Doloi, Dipen
Bayan,  Kamal Krishna Das,  Girindra Kumar Karjee, Sanjay Paul, Munin
Bayan, Prasanta Majumder, Kumud Das, Pabitra Deka, Sandip Sarma,
Anjanil Kashyap, Dipankar Devsarma, Anirban Choudhury, Biswajit Nath,
Samir Sandilya, Nayan Bhuyan, Paranjoy Bordoloi, Hiren Chandra Kalita,
Kiran Mukherjee, Prabhat Sarma, Manjit Sarma, Chandra Barua, Digambar
Patowary, Dixit Sarma, Sujit Guha, Manish Goswami,  Bhupen Goswami,
Manoj Agasti, Pulin Kalita, Bipul Sarma, Nayan Pratim Kumar, Rajeev
Bhattacharyya, Biman Hazarika, Mihir Deuri, Pankaj Deka, Partha
Goswami, Atulya Madhab Goswami, Pallabi Bora, Devol Nath, Kumarjeet
Sarma, Chinmoi Roy, Baldev Pandey, Dilwar Hussain, Rupen Sarma, Anita
Kalita Goswami, Newaprasad Yadab, Bikas Singh, Mamata Mishra, Jesim
Raja, Sewali Kalita, Iswar Mahanta, Chandra Kr Barua, Nripen
Rajbongshi, Akhyamala Thakuria, etc  joined in the mission.
Patriotic and courageous citizens like Ajay Dutta, Nirmal Choudhury,
Dhiren Barua, Jagadindra Raychoudhury, JP Saikia, Jaharlal Saha,
Uttam Barthakur, Kishor Giri, Dibas Phukan, Jeemoni Choudhury, Kailash
Sarma, Mrinal Ali Hazarika,  Pradip Thakuria, Ujjal Saikia, Ranjan
Dutta, Apurba Sarma, Pramod Kalita, Basistha Bujarbaruah, Khagen
Saikia, Sankar Das, Jogeswar Goswami, Ranjib Sarma, Abhijit Sarma,
Bitu Talukder, Sanjib Puri, Utpal Dutta, Namrata Dutta, Pranab Sarma,
Basanta Barthakur, Nabanita Mazumdar, Bhaskar Medhi, Ravi Ajitacharya,
Anjali Kumar, Utpal Das, Purabi Barua, Rubi Barthakur, Md Farid, Nekib
Kazi,  BR Das, Hydar Bora, Chandana Doloi, Tarali Chakrabarty, Purabi
Gogoi, Mrinmoy Bhuyan, Jayanta Gogoi, Azlina Khanam, Kuntala
Chakrabarty, Kartik Choudhury, etc also energised the mission paying
homage to those freedom fighters who fought against the colonial
British forces during the freedom movement.
But gone are those days. Now everyone (or majority of in the society)
prefers to celebrate both  the auspicious days with utmost conviction
to pay tributes to hundreds of thousands of known & unknown martyrs
who laid their lives for a sovereign nation. The ethnic insurgents
have lost their support bases in the last few years and their mentors
in the media have also disappeared, thanks to the aggressive social
media outbursts against those self-centered intellectuals in the
recent past. As we are observing the 75 years of India’s independence
and the forthcoming I-Day is going to witness millions of  Tri-colours
hoisted across Bharat, the small group of Guwahatians today deserve
appreciations as their dream has turned into reality and hundred
thousand proud residents in the alienated north-eastern region are
also eagerly waiting to salute the Tri-colour and pay heartfelt
admiration to the martyrs.

The author is a Guwahati-based journalist and a vivid appreciator of
Tri-colour, who along with a section of working journalists once faced
the wrath from separatist militants

About Post Author

Suman Munshi

Founder Editor of IBG NEWS (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018). Recipient of Udar Akash Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain Award 2018. National Geographic & Canon Wild Clicks 2011 jury and public poll winner. Studied Post Graduate Advance Dip in Computer Sc., MBA IT,LIMS (USA & Australia), GxP(USA & UK),BA (Sociology) Dip in Journalism (Ireland), Diploma in Vedic Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry, Vastu Shastra & Feng Sui 25 years in the digital & IT industry with Global MNCs' worked & traveled in USA, UK, Europe, Singapore, Australia, Bangladesh & many other countries. Education and Training advance management and R&D Technology from India, USA, UK, Australia. Over 30 Certification from Global leaders in R&D and Education. Computer Science Teacher, IT & LIMS expert with a wide fan following in his community. General Secretary West Bengal State Committee of All Indian Reporter’s Association
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