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We miss you, Parag Da!

You charmed the life of Ms. Anupama Das and Late Durga Dhar Das as the third born on 24th February, 1961 in Shillong, the then capital of undivided Assam. Even though your birth was a cause of immense joy and pleasure to the family, but the entire state was in a political turmoil due to the “Language Movement”. It was worst affected in the state capital of Shillong which broke into ethnic clashes and communal riots. Even the rented house where your family stayed was gutted into fire by the rioters. Your family took shelter in a temporary shed in the State Assembly campus till the law and order situation improved. Being a Police officer your father became engrossed in the law enforcement duty of the town and thereby he could not pay attention to his family which was always his priority. Your mother had a very tough time looking after her small children, including you as a merely one month old baby and that too in a temporary shelter. However, the law and order situation improved in a few months and a normal life slowly got restored in your family again. As time ran off you started growing in the healthy and serene atmosphere of Shillong. You could not start your formal education there though; because by the time you were grown up your father got transferred to Diphu, another hill station in Assam.

     Your parents sent you to a missionary school in Diphu for pre primary education. You were very keen to go to the school because the school authority used to serve the children milk, biscuits, fruits etc. The concept of serving mid day meal in schools was adopted in those days to attract the children to enroll themselves in the schools. However, you could not continue in that missionary school because your father got transferred again and this time to Guwahati, your parents home town. Here you have started your academic career in the Chenikuthi Lower Primary Boys School, which is very near to your maternal uncle’s residence. Since your father had to shift from one town to another due to his transferable job, so your parents decided to keep you in your uncle’s house at Silpukhuri where you got a very good environment to begin your academic career. You have completed your lower primary schooling from Chenikuthi School successfully and received merit scholarship to study upper primary schooling in Manik Chandra Barua Middle English School at Uzanbajar in Guwahati. You have shown your academic brightness in the middle school also and successfully completed it by qualifying for merit scholarship again. After completing middle school you have joined the prestigious Cotton Collegiate H. S. School and it is here that you developed your skill as a good orator and took your nascent steps as an upcoming writer too. You were the debating secretary of this school for two consecutive years and during that tenure your school team became the best debating team in Guwahati. A number of publications in your school magazine proved your literary skills and it is here that you almost gave a gentle gesture to the literary world of Assam about your entrance to their arena. Probably “Edinor Diary” (Diary of a Day) published in your school magazine was your first article that got published in a formal magazine. Before that you have won prizes in several essay competitions in middle school level and some of them were also published in the local news paper. You have always outshined as a very bright student in the Cotton Collegiate School and appeared in High School leaving Certificate examination in 1977 securing 4th position in Assam.

    After completion of school you joined Cotton College, Guwahati for Pre – University (Science) course. There also you maintained your bright academic career and established yourself as a good orator and a promising writer too. Your Pre University final result remains same as you have secured 4th position again in the Gauhati University in 1979. After Pre University you decided to go to New Delhi for your higher education. You took admissions in the prestigious St. Stephens College for graduation in Economics. It was very interesting that you applied for a provisional admission in St. Stephens College with your HSLC result, since your Pre University results were not declared by the time of their admission. Giving weightage to your HSLC result the college authority gave you provisional admission which you have confirmed later on with your bright Pre University result again. You have graduated from St. Stephens College in 1983 with 1st class honors and then joined Delhi School of Economics for post graduation in Economics. There also you proved yourself and completed your Masters degree successfully. When you were in St. Stephens College once you became the General Secretary of the Assamese students Association in New Delhi and as a responsible student leader you had helped and organized various events for the students of Assam. You had created one Information Cell which used to provide information related to admission in various colleges in New Delhi and other information like boarding and lodging etc. That cell was running free of cost and it helped the students from Assam a lot. During your student life in New Delhi some of your articles published in the popular Assamese magazine “Prantik” were highly acknowledged by the readers since those were all about some untold stories of various problems of different ethnic groups of Assam. Those articles were one of the first of their kind based on ‘investigative-journalism’ and are relevant even today after about 25 years of their publication.

    After successful completion of your academic career you have joined as a Probationary Officer in ‘Punjab National Bank’ in 1984 and you were posted in the Zoo Road branch in Guwahati. You served around one and half year in that bank and then resigned and for better job prospect you joined in Unit Trust of India as “A” Grade Executive Officer. You were deputed to Kolkata for a six months probation period and after the probation period you were posted at Guwahati office of the UTI. But the busy schedule of your responsible position also could not stop your passion for writing and you could take out time to write for News papers and Magazines. Your articles were mostly on Socio economic and ethnic problems of Assam and aimed to bringing out the solutions to those problems. Your writings and columns brought a new era in the field of investigative journalism in Assam. Gradually your interest in the field of journalism increased and you became an established column writer in Assam. Your keen interest in journalism made you to quit the transferable job of ‘Unit Trust of India’ and later you joined the Guwahati Stock Exchange as the Trading Manager. This job allowed you to stay in Guwahati permanently and also gave you the opportunity to writing as well as undertaking free lance journalism as a passion. Within a short period your performance is recognized there and you became the General Manager of Guwahati Stock Exchange.

    In the year 1986 you entered matrimonial bliss with Ms. Purabi Talukdar who is also a highly qualified Masters Degree in Economics from Gauhati University. You had a very happy married life and Rohan as a son came to your family in 1987 and Prerona as a daughter came to you in 1991. Your family life was quite happy with brothers and sisters and love and affection of all other relatives.

    Your passion in the field of Journalism ultimately forced you to quit the lucrative executive job of Guwahati Stock Exchange and thereafter you started full fledged journalism. You joined as Executive Editor in the newly published Assamese daily the “Asomiya Pratidin” in 1995. As the founder Executive Editor of the daily you installed an extra mileage to it, which crossed the circulation margin of One Lakh in the first year itself. Prior to joining in Asomiya Pratidin you had your own publication, a widely circulated weekly named “Boodhbar” which you had to cease due to the conspiracy of some vested interested persons and lot of political mischief. Later on you started one fortnightly called “Aagan” which also you could not continue due to financial crisis.

    As a responsible journalist you have axed all the social evils and you became a terror for the corrupt politicians and govt. officials and other business persons. Apart from journalism you were an active Human rights defender (HRD) and you organized people of Assam against human rights violation especially by armed forces during their counter insurgency move in remote places. In the year 1991 Manab Aadhikaar Sangram Samitee (popularly known as MASS) was formed to resist human right violations by State machinery and you became the founder Secretary General of that organization. Due to your active role in the human rights violation movement against State machinery and due to your bold writings in News paper against the corrupt establishment you became the target of the corrupt politicians several times. Due to the filthy politics of these conspirators you were arrested under National Security Act in 1992 and again under TADA in 1993. Even the manuscript of your largely acclaimed book “Swadhinatar Prastab” was seized and you were harassed several times through raids at your residence and the office premises. During that struggling period you wrote several books. “Sanglat Fenla” was your only novel which was greatly applauded in the Assamese literary society. The other books that you authored were “Swadhinatar Prastab”, “Nisidha Kalam aru Annynna”, “Aami ji katha kaisilo”, “Rastrdrohir Dinalipi”, “Mok Swadhinata lage” and “Swadhin Asomar Aarthaneeti”. All your books were extremely popular among the common people because they highlighted the basic problems of Assam and they were mostly against the corrupt State machinery and establishment.

    Your uncompromising attitude towards the corrupt system and your democratic movement against the State machinery ultimately became very costly for you. You became the victim of armed goons and they killed you brutally in broad day light on 17th May, 1996 when you went to receive your son from school. The country was shocked, bereaved, agitated and expressed their shock and grief through protests and peace march. But all in vain……. Today even after 16 long years of your death the shady veil behind the heinous act is still to be pulled off and the killers and the conspirators to be booked by our law enforcers as they still roam around unpunished and untraced. The way the Govt. and the judicial system handled your case for long years has justified yet again your stand made against our corrupt system which is still relevant and only God knows when that would end.