On the evening of 9th December 1979, there were huge mass gatherings of Assamese at different places along the highway from Guwahati to Barpeta to protest and stop Abida Begum, wife of the then President of India Fakaruddin Ali Ahmad, from filing nomination of contesting in the Lok Sabha. Terming her as an illegal migrant from East Pakistan, people had assembled at Rangia, Nalbari and Bhabanipur to impose a road block on Begum’s convoy escorted by Prafulla Sharma, ADC of Kamrup. The first blockade at Rangia, headed by many intellectuals including Beeren Bordoloi, son of Late Gopinath Bordoloi (Bharat Ratna) and principal of Rangia College, was broken after lathicharge. So was the one at Nalbari.
But the news of these brutal lathi-charges by police had made the protest at Bhabanipur grow stronger. Inspite of a curfew, common people not affiliated to any political party or organization had joined in to protest at wee hours of the night. The local police, led those days by KPS Gill was snagged and rendered helpless and unleashed a ferocious assault with their lathis to break the blockade. Some protestors ran in panic while others still continued to stand braving brutal assaults, head rising tall with belief, courage and love for their motherland – Assam. One such brave heart was Khargeshwar Talukdar, student of Bhabanipur College. He was a son of the soil. He had come out from his home for a cause, stood the cold winter night for his motherland with a belief and died in the havoc created. It was about 3 am then and the sun had not risen.
The next day was one which neither Taulkdar’s family nor Assam could ever forget. Khargeshwar Taulkdar’s dead body was carried by protestors throughout the city of Barpeta and then till Guwahati, with the ferocious Assamese Nationalist Late Nibaran Bora leading the way. It is another story that Late Bora’s son, back home was getting married as his father was marching forward with grit and gumption. Nibaran Bora had stood undaunted– the death of another son of his Mother Asom had induced a passion such that love for his motherland had taken over all personal emotions. So was the state of mind of millions across the hills and plains of Assam. And what followed was history. The Assam Agitation fueled off and lasted for the next six years, rattling New Delhi’s power chords in such magnitude ever since India’s Independence. Khargeshwar Talukdar, being the first martyr of that historic agitation of the land remains a beloved name for every true Assamese.
34 years later, it was an outspoken and controversial man – KPS Gill, who raked up the issue of Khargeshwar Talukdar, once again in Assam. This time it was not with respect but with insult. KPS Gill, who had served as Inspector General of Police in Assam till 1984 stirred the hornet’s nest, last Sunday in a meeting in Tezpur, with his comment that the first martyr of the Assam agitation against illegal migrants, Khargeshwar Talukdar, was not killed because of police action but had drowned in a pond! Gill, who was serving in the Bhabanipur area as a DIG those days in 1979, was accused by many to be the prime reason of Talukdar’s death due to an uncontrolled Police Assault. Gill’s recent comments only awakened the long dormant demons of the state and the way it is being pictured by media, it probably will end up as the biggest controversy of 2013.
The mud and dirt game of the Political class over Gill’s comments
- Effigy Burnings of Gill by AASU, (what else can we expect anyway?)
The AASU was, as expected, sharp to react and showcased one of their biggest strength (!) – burning effigies of Gill in protest and calling Gill a liar. AASU’s president Shankar Prasad Rai went on to accuse that it was K P S Gill who had beaten up Khargeshwar Talukdar black and blue that led to his death. Gill’s comment an insult not only to Talukdar but also all the 855 martyrs of the agitation, the AASU leader said.
But where was AASU all these years? Many of those AASU leaders who went on to take the reins of running the state have never cared to remember Khargeshwar anyway. Late Talukdar’s hometown, which was considered as a pilgrimage by the agitators who shook New Delhi is now home to a majority of alleged illegal Bangladeshi population (per last Government census), the very people against whose influx he had laid down his life.
My brother’s sacrifice has gone in vain, had lamented Radhakanta Talukdar, brother of late Khargeshwar Talukdar, some years back while speaking to media persons. The very leaders who egged him on to face death for the motherland now bow before the electoral strength of the migrants.
Another sad example is probably the fact that the 700 bigha (1,039 hectare) government plot that was to have been named Swahid Khargeshwar Talukdar Nagar has been occupied for years by allegedly illegal Bangladeshis!
Does AASU, who is known as an agitating body rather than a student’s body, have the moral right to stand up for Khargeshwar Talukdar’s family? Has it not been 34 years of betrayal and crocodile tears?
- Blaming Gill for insulting people of Assam – by AGP (the group who arguably insulted the people of Assam most)
Opposition Asom Gana Parishad, which was formed by Assam Agitation leaders, termed Gill’s comment a fresh insult to the people of Assam and went on to accuse that Gill is a favourite son of the Congress and that he (Gill) is trying to indulge in dirty politics! The AGP tried to remind the people that it was Gill who had unleashed terror on innocent people of Assam during the Assam agitation and that he was supported by the Congress.
Surely, AGP has once again proved what they are known best for – forgetting their basics! Should we remind AGP that back in 1997 during AGP’s rule in the state, the then Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (one of the pioneers of Assam agitation by the way!!) had requested Gill’s services as security advisor. This request was despite the fact that Gill then was being charged with sexual harassment case!
If Gill’s methods were inhuman and terrorizing according to AGP, can they clarify why had they adopted to the secret killings during their party’s rule in Assam? Incidentally secret killings (reportedly supported by Gill), the dirtiest part of Assam history in modern times is believed to be a clear and true inspiration of Gill’s methodology of counter terrorism which he had adopted in Punjab during the late eighties. Many such human right violation charges are still being run and it was for this reason that UK Government had denied entry to Gill to England during London Olympics.
- Keeping Safe distance from Gill,- Chief Minister of State (During whose rule has Assam become the most Unsafe corner part of India)
The every smiling Chief Minister of Assam was not able to keep reporters at bay from asking him this question. He tried to evade controversy by stating that he does not even know how Talukdar died. In his own ever-boastful style, Gogoi thumped that it was he (Gogoi) who had prevented Gill from becoming the Governor of Assam in 2003 when the centre intended to put Gill as the Governor!
For the facts, it was actually The Northeast Study Group, of which Gill a member is himself, had advised against assigning a state’s previous security personnel to a state as governor. Chief Minister of state of Assam had to merely agree to the facts as Gill had served as Inspector-General of Assam during early 1980s. Gill anyway had no love for the Chief Minister and called Gogoi as Nonsense!
- The unfaithful Assamese
KPS Gill, who is an infamous man in Assam because of his history of alleged human right violations in agitation and insurgency control, was invited to a function of the North East Sports Foundation. The officials of North East Sports Foundation not only ignored the local sentiments in inviting a locally much hated name, they also ignored the facts that Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) of which Gill was the President was suspended indefinitely by The Indian Olympic Association on charges of corruption and mismanagement.
The Hated KPS Gill and murderer of human rights
KPS Gill, termed as Super Cop for his ability to tackle terrorism in his home state of Punjab has been a hated person by those who value Human Lives and cares about the right to freedom. None can forget the case of Jaswant Singh Khalra, the Human Rights activist who had issued a press note alleging that Punjab security organisations under leadership of KPS Gill had cremated thousands of unidentified bodies. Khalra had suggested that most of those cremations were people with links to the separatist movement who had been picked up illegally by the Punjab police from 1984 to 1994 (this was later found to be true by the National Human Rights Commission of India after their own investigation). Khalra was abducted by Punjab Police under alleged conspiracy of KPS Gill for exposing this naked truth. Some 17 years after Khalra’s abduction and murder the writ petition filed by his wife Paramjit Kaur Khalra into the role and involvement of KPS Gill is still pending before the High Court. Khalra’s case is similar in many instances to that of Late Parag Kumar Das of Assam, the difference being in Assam, Das was killed just before the secret killings of Assam started in order to avoid a potential Khalra like situation later.
Gill could have the courage to speak insulting the martyr of Assam agitation because he has nothing to fear from a community which is deep rooted in mutual fighting and corruption. But can he dare to speak up against his own kin in Punjab?
Priyankan Goswami is the Editor of Times of Assam’s Political Analysis section. He is also founder member and member of the Executive board of Times of Assam.
By Academic Priyankan Goswami is MBA & Mechanical Engineer.