Guwahati, March 21: In 1985, Bhrigu Kumar Phukan was accorded a hero’s welcome when he and his firebrand comrades of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) landed in Guwahati after signing the historic Assam Accord.
Just over 20 years later, they brought home the hero dead ' and thousands lined the streets to bid adieu to a beloved leader of the people.
From the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Phukan’s last journey mirrored the people’s affection for a humble soul who had won many friends but left behind few enemies, if any.
Admirers, friends, colleagues and common people who had known the student leader, the driving force behind the Assam agitation, jostled to get a glimpse of his flower-bedecked body, draped in an AASU flag.
Phukan, once one of the leading lights of the AGP, lost his battle with liver and lung infection last evening. He was pushing 50.
“Phukan was a hero for the people of Assam as his contribution to the cause of the state was unique,” AGP MP Sarbananda Sonowal said during a memorial service held at the airport.
After the body was flown into the city from New Delhi, many offered floral tributes to Phukan at the airport itself. They included AGP president Brindaban Goswami and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.
The body was then taken to Gauhati University. At the AASU headoffice on the university campus, 50 members of the AASU and the Asom Sena gave a “last salute” to Phukan.
The cortege next went to his Kharghuli residence where wife Indira, daughter Upasa and mother Parul bade him a tearful farewell. At the AGP headquarters in Ambari, many of Phukan’s former comrades ' including Atul Bora, Pulakesh Barua and even some representatives from the BJP ' paid their tributes.
The cortege was taken to Sualkuchi but finally returned to Amingaon for the cremation. Thousands waited till late in the night for a last glimpse of their beloved Phukanda.