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The Gandhian Assam forgot - Plea to preserve historic namghar

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SMITA BHATTACHARYYA   |     |   Published 02.10.13, 12:00 AM

Krishna Nath Sharma

Jorhat, Oct. 1: The sacrifices of a man who followed the Gandhian way and championed the cause of the downtrodden are now hardly remembered in Assam.

In 1934, Krishna Nath Sharma of Sabaibandha had opened the doors of his family namghar to Harijans to pray in and earned the ire of his community, with his family being ostracised for the move.

Mahatma Gandhi, in a function, had ceremonially opened the namghar doors to Harijans on April 18 that year when he had visited Jorhat.

The Krishna Sharma Smriti Surakshya Samiti here now proposes to request the government to preserve the property and namghar of this Gandhian who had fought for the rights of downtrodden and against opium consumption till his end.

“Tomorrow is Gandhi Jayanti and the country will remember the Father of the Nation through prayers and programmes. At home, however, we have forgotten Assam’s Gandhi, who even gave up a Legislative Assembly seat so that he could work for the oppressed,” Ratul K. Baruah, the secretary of the Samiti, said.

Baruah said after they had formed the Samiti in 2006 they named the lane which led up to the more than six-bigha property the Mukti Jujaru Path.

Indrajit Baruah, the president of the Samiti, said in December they would organise a seminar on Krishna Sharma and also ask two of his sons — now residing elsewhere — to come up with a proposal to develop the property through a project.

Krishna Sharma worked tirelessly to gather facts related to the use of opium in the Northeast as the member of a committee, which had been constituted in 1924 with Kuladhar Chaliha as the chairman. This report had been presented at the League of Nations to draw the attention of the international committee to the opiate.

A devout Brahmin, Sharma organised the Harijan Welfare Scheme in Assam and then opened up his family namghar to them.

Shanti Borthakur, a granddaughter of Sharma, who lives in the locality, said the family had not been able to preserve the property as they could not “afford it”.

“Whenever someone has come up to do something they have sought that the property be authorised to them. This is not something we are willing to do,” she said.

She said for several years her family and all those who had participated in the opening of the namghar. But the prayers continued with the support of his wife

Her father Kalidas Deva Sharma, second son of Krishna Sharma, had, with the support of his siblings and government aid, set up a vocational training centre in the memory of his father where the poor were taught carpentry, blacksmith work and other trades.

“My father and my aunt had stayed with Gandhi at his ashram in Wardha and like my grandfather, came under his influence by joining the freedom movement and going to jail. In 1942, he was a student of Visva Bharati in Bengal and returned to Jorhat to take up the responsibility of the Krishna Nagar Social Welfare Education Centre. The vocational training centre, however, is today in a shambles,” she said.

Gandhi Jayanti will be celebrated at Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board, Chandmari, Guwahati. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will be present as chief guest.

The chief minister is also scheduled to lead an all-prayer meet at Gandhi children’s park here at 9am tomorrow.

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