Characteristics of betrayers can’t nullify the principle of a revolutionary who laid down his life with martyrdom. History might not be repeated by itself, but history always names the uncompromising struggle and about the martyrs, not about the betrayers. Reluctantly, history is filled with the betrayers too, but it is always to ensure that betrayers are not to be honored but to be hated. And martyrs are always staged to be honored as history speaks for itself.
Born on 6 September 1961, Heerak was a brilliant student throughout his school life. Heerak was educated in Guwahati’s reputed school Cotton Collegiate. After passing out HSLC, he had to move to several colleges and finally graduated from the Nalbari College under Gauhati University. Heerak was a Bachelor of Science in Physics during his militancy life.
Heerak joined the ULFA while he was sent to the Nalbari College to study for his Bachelor of Science. But Heerak already joined ULFA and continued his study, passing his Bachelor of Science in Physics while he was an active militant. “He received his Bachelor of Science pass out under Gauhati University, while he was in Sherpur Camp, and he jumped from a hill in joy”, said his father Ratnapati Mahanta in an interview with me.
Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was the first Deputy Commander-in-Chief of ULFA, who became an influential revolutionary in the 1980s. Being from an aristocratic family, Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was the best choice of ULFA’s Commander-in-Chief Paresh Baruah and General Secretary Anup Chetia, to gear up the armed revolution of Independence. The golden spoon taker by birth, Heerak became a man with excellent guerrilla tactics within a couple of months of his guerrilla training and he was ranked with the charge of Deputy Commander-in-Chief in his early youth age.
During the period of Presidency Rule in Assam in 1990, the Indian army was deployed to strike with counter-insurgency as ruled out by the Indian Union. Indian army launched Operation Bajrang against ULFA in November 1990 and carried out a war against the people of Assam while it was dealing with counter-insurgency. The Indian Union was so sure of their success that soon after Hiteswar Saikia took the oath as Chief Minister of Assam, Saikia declared, “ULFA is going to be finished within a few hours.” Hiteswar Saikia, who had been a mastermind of several counter-insurgency operations in India, had the game plan to eliminate ULFA’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Heerak Jyoti Mahanta and General Secretary Anup Chetia, which could have been a massive strike to wipe out ULFA. So Heerak and Anup Chetia were on the list of “kill, not arrest” to foil ULFA’s armed struggle, and the Indian army secretly launched a special operation to hunt Heerak and Anup Chetia.
Indian army missed Anup Chetia due to a lack of proper information in October 1991 but could launch a honey-trap for Heerak Jyoti Mahanta. And as a result, Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was circled by his aides from October 1991, who were managed by the army and intelligence. Probably, ULFA’s chief of the Staff Paresh Baruah sensed the dirty politics of the betrayer and the trap of the army, so Paresh Baruah called Heerak to move to Bangladesh as an immediate action. Even so, before Heerak Jyoti Mahanta could move out from Assam, the army succeeded to trap him in the home of intelligence-sponsored Nripen Baruah of the Geetanagar area on the afternoon of December 31, 1991. After a few minutes of gunfire, the dreaded guerrilla Heerak Jyoti Mahanta alias Jayanta Medhi alias Naren Deka lost his last battle as he had no route to escape from the enemy’s ambush. The army captured ULFA’s most-wanted Deputy Commander-in-Chief Heerak Jyoti Mahanta alive along with Akan Baishya and Dhruba Talukdar and took them away quickly to an unknown place where top authorities in intelligence were about to take the final decision. Army and intelligence took no time to execute Indian Union’s decision to kill Heerak Jyoti Mahanta and arrange a fake encounter, and it was done immediately after Heerak’s arrest.
While the entire world is about to celebrate the New Years’ event, Assam lost one of the historic martyrs 22 years before on this same day. On the afternoon of December 31, 1991, ULFA’s the then Deputy Commander-in-Chief Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was arrested by the Indian army and killed at Geetanagar Police station on the same night.
Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was killed by the army and Assam police top official and staged a drama of fake encounters of the early night of December 31, 1991. As the drama was staged, the news was aired as, “ULFA’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Heerak Jyoti Mahanta alias Jayanta Medhi is killed in Chandrapur while trying to escape from custody of the army. Mahanta led the army convoy convincing them to find huge amounts of weapons that were underground in the Chandrapur hill area.”
Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was killed not because he was the second-in-command of ULFA, nor because he was the most dreaded guerrilla leader, he was killed because he was the barrier to the betrayers of his outfit who were about to leave the outfit and follow India’s dictate. Eliminating Heerak Jyoti Mahanta, the then Assam Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia tried to stage a surrender to mainstream drama, which failed only because of the killing of Heerak.
The Indian Union succeeded to eliminate Heerak Jyoti Mahanta but failed to eliminate him from the history of Assam as the Assamese nation always honored him as the icon of uncompromising revolutionary principle.
Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was killed two decades before but is still a revolutionary icon, who can’t be wiped out because of the characteristics of some betrayer. One can ignore, but can’t nullify that Heerak Jyoti Mahanta is still considered a heroic revolutionary in the history of Assam.
A terrorist marked by state propaganda is always a hero for his nation, which is obvious and history is evident.