Hunger demands food. When a poor fellow sleeps without food and dies in hunger, it is often termed as a simple incident. But, when a rich fellow do’s the same, it becomes a revolution.
It was on this fateful night of December 31, 1991 when a great son of this soil, Heerak Jyoti Mahanta laid down his life for the greater cause of Assam. Today he is a forgotten hero, more appropriately a banned hero, who has been banned by the ruling class to hide his heroism and to erase his ideals and principles. But, he still lives there, in the heart of the people of Assam.
Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was born to an aristocratic family of Guwahati on September 6, 1961. His father Ratnapati Mahanta was a Divisional Manager of LIC (Ratnapati Mahanta passed away a few months back) and his mother was Bimala Mahanta. Among the four children of Ratnapati Mahanta and Bimala Mahanta, Heerak Jyoti was the eldest and the most promising one with extraordinary qualities since childhood. He was a very bright student and completed his schooling from Cotton Collegiate Higher Secondary at Panbazar in Guwahati.
After his higher secondary examination, while waiting for the results to be out, he enrolled himself in a Martial arts (Taekwondo) academy in Guwahati. It was at this point of time when he came into contact with United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA), through Hiranya Saikia (who happens to be his relative). Soon after his introduction to ULFA, he got inclined to the ideals and principles and more importantly to the goals and objectives of the organisation. Thereafter, he never looked back and started working for the ULFA.
After passing his higher secondary with flying colours in science stream, he was enrolled at Arya Vidyapeeth College by his parents to pursue B. Sc. But, looking at his movements and the trend of ULFA which was gripping the college environment, his parents sent him to their native place Nalbari to complete his Bachelor Degree from Nalbari College. It was then when he went to join the movement to establish sovereign Asom. Later, meritorious Heerak Jyoti completed his B. Sc. at a time when he was an active member of ULFA. Sources say that soon after getting the result, he jumped from a hilltop at a ULFA camp in Sherpur, Bangladesh out of happiness.
Heerak Jyoti Mahanta’s existence in ULFA soon turned out to be a headache for the Indian government as well as for the state government. The reason behind it was his family background. On the other hand, it was a great achievement for ULFA, as his joining attracted many youths to join the organisation. Heerak Jyoti’s joining inspired many others follow his steps; literally it was after his joining that Assam saw a massive flow of youths to ULFA. He was a source of inspiration for many youths who joined the organisation after being inspired by his ideas. The ULFA too, took the advantage and campaigned in the remote villages giving his examples. In a very short span of time he rose to become one of the most popular leaders of ULFA’s golden period, a period when ULFA was kept in high esteem by the people of Assam.
Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was very vocal in the organisation. At many instances he raised his voice against the central leadership of ULFA in some decisions which he believed, were against the ideals and principles of the organisation and of Assam.
As a hardcore rebel, he was no ordinary guerrilla fighter. Indeed, he was the one who led the first ever face to face battle between ULFA and Indian army at Lakkhipathar, in Tinsukia district in November 1991. It was at that time when operation Bajrang was at its peak in Upper Assam.
Unfortunately he had to lay down his life in the hands of army in his last battle. It was on the fateful night of December 31, 1991 when police and army arrested Deputy C-in-C Heerak Jyoti Mahanta from the residence of Nripen Baruah in Guwahati and killed him in the same night. He could have face the enemy forces, but to save the life of Nripen Baruah and his family he didn’t indulged in war. At the same time, he could have survived by surrendering himself, but he didn’t, as his ideals, morality and principles were superior to him than his life.
It was a cold blooded murder by the government. Army took him to Geetanagar police station and when he refused to compromise, he was shot dead there itself. Later police said that he was killed when he tried to escape near Chandrapur in the outskirts of Guwahati.
Today, everyone around the globe is busy celebrating New Years Eve. But, a family is shedding tears remembering their son. For them there will never come a New Years Eve ever. It was on this fateful day that Assam lost one of her brave son. Can’t we spare a minute to remember the great son of this soil and to pay tribute to him? As the world celebrates New Years Eve today, I stand to salute the great son and the mother who gave birth to the real hero.