What do you do when your son gets married and someone dies for your motherland on the same day?

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 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 police escort, snagged and rendered helpless, 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 Khargeswar Talukdar, student of Bhabanipur College. He was a son of the soil, neither a member of PLP nor AASU. 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.

A few hours later, an Assamese family in Guwahati was busy bursting with fun and frolic in preparations of their eldest son’s marriage set to take place next day. The women were busy chatting about their expectations at the bride’s place during  Joron, the men busy in getting different chores set in place, kids playing around joyfully. Amidst such celebratory atmosphere, suddenly someone came rushing into their house yelling about the death of one Assamese youth killed at Barpeta few hours ago while protesting. People immediately rushed to the news bearer and heared the sad story. Almost everyone who heard the news sulked, but none was eager to let go off the festive mood in the Biyaghor at the cost an unknown youth dying. There was one exception though – the father of the groom, late Nibaron Bora.

Mr Bora immediately started packing to rush off to Barpeta. His wife was startled, so were all his relatives and friends. He was asked “Why?” Nibaran Bora, the ferocious nationalist and a true lover of Mother Assam, had the answer, “We have just lost one son. How can I joyfully attend the marriage ceremony of another?”  He waited no further and rushed immediately to Barpeta.

The day was one which neither Bora’s or Taulkdar’s family, nor Assam could ever forget. Khargeswar Taulkdar’s dead body was carried by protestors throughout the city of Barpeta and then till Guwahati, Nibaran Bora leading the way. Bora’s son, back home was getting married as his father marched forward with grit and gumption. There was no mobile phone those days to keep connected with the family, no way to bless his son as he set off to start a new life. Yet, Nibaran Bora stood undaunted– the love for his motherland had taken over all personal emotions. And what followed was history. The Assam Agitation fuelled off and lasted for the next six years.

People today hardly remember that Nibaran Bora had been one of the first eight leaders who were arrested during Assam Agitation, imprisoned in Bihar, away from family and associates. We have probably also forgotten that this pioneer of the agitation had strongly opposed the Assam Accord signed in 1985, terming it cheating. But this is part of another chapter of history, long buried under glorious claims of other leaders (most of whom turned cheaters). Our young generation probably would never be told about Bora’s multifaceted personality, intellectual integrity, and numerous tales of his self-sacrifice, his hypnotizing public speeches and love for Assam. Another example of his self-sacrifice, as claimed by many, is the fact that unlike other pioneers of Sovereign Assam of the eighties who wanted others to wash their hands with blood and lift the crown for them, Bora had inducted his own son Partha Pratim Bora into the outlawed ULFA to chase the dream of Independent Assam. However this too was never to materialize as Partha Pratim Bora alias Javed Borah alias Jyoti Baruah, who was the Foreign Secretary of the outfit then, went missing in 1992 under mysterious condition.

Many lawyers and ex-judges still vividly recollects about Bora’s remarkable knowledge of the law and Indian constitution, although he was never trained in law!  But does our young generation know about such an example? None ever would probably be reading his books like Swadhin Asomor Sombhabona or Looking Back, because we Assamese like to follow only the glam and glitter. We like to take pride and “Follow” (Tweeter, anyone?) one who has fame and power. The youth today idolizes leaders who grow into big capitalists, owning thousands of crores of property. Leave alone sacrificing a family member’s marriage, in the near future, we Assamese would be unwilling to come out and help a neighbor when there’s cricket or Indian Idol or a good soap in the TV.

We find thousands of martyrs like Khargeswar Talukdar killed in Assam over the last few decades, either during a protest or gun fire. Yes we are proud of them, but we need to put an end to the Khargeswars of Assam laying down lives. And for that to happen, we need a few more Nibaran Bora rising up. But can we or Assam ever see another Nibaran Bora?

Disclaimer:
In the article, we have tried to bring up facts based on sources that were present as eye witnesses during the incident (The protests). The incident about Bora’s sacrificing his son’s marriage, although debated by some people, is almost a legend for those who had lived through those times as an adult. However, any claim which can prove the truth is welcome.

Also, this article is not meant to create any controversy or ethno-political dispute and we request our readers to eye the write up with a platonic outlook. We would appreciate your views, feedback and would be more than happy if you could share any such stories or incidents.

* Neither Times of Assam nor the writer is legally liable for any content published herewith.

Priyankan Goswami
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.

7 Responses to "What do you do when your son gets married and someone dies for your motherland on the same day?"

  1. pranjit sarmah  September 8, 2010 at 03:41 AM

    A nice article!!

    Good writing, and optimized in argument!

    Even we have a mix feeling about Assam agitation, there are few golden story/history hidden inside it, which are encouraging and which make us feel proud….This one is presented in this article in the best neutral fashion, without using any spicy!!

  2. Chandan K. Mahanta  September 9, 2010 at 03:03 AM

    Very well written piece, Priyankan.

    I knew little about the late Sjt. Nibaran Bora. I learned a lot today. Thanks .

    That said, I will have to admit that I am not entirely convinced about your concerns about today's Oxomiya youth. Surely we cannot hold it against someone trying to better his own lot. It is however not necessarily exclusive of one's duty to one's own society, people, country etc. But I do agree that Oxomiyas , like others in the sub-continent, have not been able to understand that everyone must chip in, participate, for the collective good, for society to evolve and prosper. That is a legacy of colonialism, well nurtured by India,

    even long after the British had been gone.

  3. Bikash Kumar Das  September 9, 2010 at 03:32 AM

    Sorry Mr Probin Sharma, "the bloody riot of 1960s where we Assamese men shamelessly raped and killed helpless Bengali women and children". You have written out of proportion. I dnt know who told this to you. did you forgot how Surjya Borah was brutally butchered in Siliguri Rly Stn? Anyway topic is not for that.

    NIBARAN BORAH- the man all forgot,how he lost all his properties, land for using as main source of finance for leading Assam Agitation with my father and Girin Baruah etc.There was dedications from that generation. However Late Nibaran Borah never even told our family that his son is getting married.he was as usual for agitations.Those was days I met him very closely as most of times he was at Kalaigaon/Mangaldai area. It was late MP HIralal Patowaris death to spark Assam agitation.So was our home to be main point.

    And ironically ULFA was born with good faith and aim, hence was supported by all.(Now all hate!!) during AGP gearing up for full power to ruin Assam for another 50 yrs,they kicked all those personalities like Girin Baruah,Nibaran Borah,Lakhyadhar Chowdhury,Late Rabin Nabish and lot many freedom fighters,gandhian/ personalities and gradually they are no more in any ones mind.Money gained major aim. As every youth did joined ULFA for a cause those days, ( Present health min was Paresh Baruah's close associate once) Partha Pratim Bora also joined with son of Late Rabin Nabish.But sad that his missing case never noted by so called Human Right groups.AGPs destruction caused massive sentimental hurts among all and ruin started. It is impossible to re gain those days of late Nibaran Borah etc. We see more cowards etc.

    History never repeats. Gone are days. Thanks for reminding this great Axomiya.

  4. Ajanta Phatowali  June 25, 2011 at 08:43 AM

    Thanks for such a lovely piece of history. Nibaron Bora has been one of my most respected intellectual of the state and such a brave heart. Hatts off to him once again

  5. Manjit Nath  June 25, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Priyankan Goswami – I have become fan of your writing. Just 2 weeks back, I listened for 2 hours about Nibaran Bora from my Moha who articipated in Assam Agitation in a big way. I just don’t understand why Hostory has to favour only a few people and not the truth?

  6. Kaustubh Deka  May 31, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Thanks for the honest and fearless piece. Nibaron Bora is indeed rememberd by those still who looks upon him as one of the few true tall figures shining out in the path of Assamese nationalism, and this was a vision that was not chauvinistic, parochial and narrow but based on a broad understanding of history and society.

  7. Nimisha Medhi  December 2, 2014 at 08:23 PM

    I want to know whether the sacrifices made by the great heroes of the Assam agitation is rightly valued by the present generation?

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