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Assam sport fraternity loses a spirited soul
- Pioneer of journalism and organisation Pulin Das passes away at the age of 96

Guwahati, July 16: The lanky old man will no longer walk down Dighalipukhuri East Lane to India Club with a tennis racquet.

The bespectacled Pulin Das, in his shorts and T-shirt with a polo cap, who played regular tennis till the age of 96 and showed an entire generation how to keep fit through the sport, passed away today.

The pioneer of sports organising and sports journalism breathed his last around 2.30pm at International Hospital here, bringing an end to a life dedicated entirely to sports.

He is survived by three sons and a host of relatives.

Born on November 1, 1918, in Guwahati, Das was one of the members of the first ever Assam Ranji Trophy team in 1949 and the only living member of the squad. He founded the Assam Cricket Association as the secretary, along with the then premier of Assam, Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi, in 1947.

Apart from being a cricketer, Das also played table tennis, hockey and tennis. He later became one of the pioneers in sports organising and was part of the founder bodies of most of the sports organisations in the state.

After his playing days, Das took to refereeing football and umpiring in cricket alongside his regular activities as an organiser-cum-sports journalist. He was also one of the main founders of the state flagship football tournament, Lokapriya Bordoloi Trophy Tournament, in 1952.

A confidant of the pioneer of modern Assam, Radha Gobinda Baruah, Das was closely associated with the building of Nehru Stadium here.

He was the first ever full-fledged sports journalist in Assam reporting for The Assam Tribune and The Statesman, apart from contributing in some Calcutta dailies and Dainik Natun Asomiya. He was also a sports reviewer in All India Radio and was one of the first commentators in Assamese for AIR.

Das was also one of the founders of the erstwhile Assam Journalists Association and the Guwahati Press Club. He was awarded life membership by the Assam Sports Journalists Association.

At the age of 96 he was still actively associated with sports and was extremely punctual in his daily activities. He was the first ever sports pensioner of the state when the government introduced the same in 1983. He was also awarded a lifetime achievement award by the ACA last year.

Apart from being a sports personality, Das was also associated with socio-cultural activities in the city.

Assam governor J.B. Patnaik, chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Assam Olympic Association, Assam Cricket Association, Sports Journalists Federation of India, Assam Sports Journalists Association and the entire sports fraternity in the state condoled his demise. All sporting activities in the city were suspended for the day.

He will be cremated at Nabagraha crematorium here tomorrow and the body would be taken to India Club at 9am before the funeral, his eldest son Kalyan Das said. The government has decided to give him a state funeral tomorrow at Nabagraha.

The AASU has volunteered to take out the funeral procession while the Latasil Ganesh Mandir and the ACA have taken up the responsibility of the rituals during the cremation.

The AASU has demanded state honours for the cremation.

“If state honours could be awarded to artistes and litterateurs, he also deserves the same,” senior AASU leader Bipul Rabha said.