Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bhrigu Phukan -one of the best -----By Bhupen Hazarika

Source : The Assam Tribune,30/03/2006
I was informed in Mumbai from Guwahati by my young friend Samudra Gupta that Bhrigu Phukan was dying and that he was on a respirator fighting for his life. I was shocked and saddened by the suddenness of this terrible news. And I prayed hard to the Almighty that Bhrigu should live and recover, for Bhrigu was a fighter all his life and had faced and conquered so many ups and downs, highs and lows and had won. This time too he would win in his battle for life. This time too he would conquer and vanquish death.
Three days ago my personal manager Kamal Chandra Kataki informed me, that not only had Bhrigu expired, but his cremation too was over. I am very very upset since then ... Why Bhrigu, did you have to die so young? Born in 1954 you are young enough to be my son, and perhaps I was lucky that you always considered me as your father, and your role model. Why has present day society become so indifferent, cruel and insincere? Why do they forget the brave warriors and pioneers like Bhrigu who have heralded their freedom?
Not a single national daily in Mumbai carried, not even mentioned about Bhrigu’s passing away. Not a single important news channel telecast nor mentioned his death either. It broke my heart. If Asom got its second independence it was due to the courage, fervour, patriotism, commitment, sincerity, sacrifice, perseverance and bravery of Bhrigu Phukan and all his wonderful young colleagues of the All Assam Students Union.
It was 1979, twenty seven years ago when I first met two dynamic gentlemen, Bhrigu Kumar Phukan and Prafulla Mahanta. I was immediately sucked into their passionate fervour and vision, and it struck me that it was a new Asom that was being born because of both of them and their fellow colleagues.
It was 1979, and a new sun arose on the horizon of Asom’s political scenario. The people of Asom are peace loving and like most riverine civilisations, prospered in contentment with their agriculture, thanks to the mighty, gigantic river Brahmaputra. Then this son of Brahma gave birth to several sons from Asom’s soil, who formed a movement by all the students of Asom’s universities and colleges. They shouted out a warning to end the complacency that gripped the Asomiya people. They performed their clarion call that the Asomiya ethos language, spirit, its very existence was at stake, and they were confined to becoming minorities in their own home State.
This movement was spearheaded both equally by Bhrigu Phukan and Prafulla Mahanta.
My vision of a new Asom which I propagated through my lyrics and my compositions and sung by me was initiated by me long before Bhrigu was born. My songs were taken on by the All Assam Students Union. They travelled the length and breadth of Asom, penetrating villages and towns not only singing my songs but heralding a call of awakening. Their slogan was “Jai Aai Asom’, wake up and throw out the foreigners.
What and where that Bhrigu, Prafulla and their youth brigade succeeded was that soon enough not only the educated urbanites, but along with them the rural underprivileged identified with their students’ movement for Asom was extremely grateful that at least these youth were addressing their age old problem of the Centre’s negligence and isolation of Asom.
Late Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India proved to be extremely magnanimous, after being impressed by Bhrigu and Prafulla’s presentation. He agreed to their request and the Assam Accord was offered to the AASU leaders which was historically signed to protect the identity, existence, spirit, language, ethos, culture, administration and revenue due to the Asomiya people. Rajiv Gandhi convinced Bhrigu and the AASU leaders to take up the path of peace and to participate in mainstream politics.
Thus the Asom Gana Parishad was born. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta became India’s youngest Chief Minister heading a new Asom and Bhrigu Phukan shoulder to shoulder with him became a most dynamic yet youngest Home Minister, Asom had ever seen.
Bhrigu, thereafter became busy as Home Minister over the next ten years. We met sporadically, because then he was no longer a youth leader who sought my advice, but was a dynamic Home Minister who could design and expedite his own decisions.
But his love for me never abated. He would call me regularly and speak over phone at most times late at night. He married a young beautiful girl and I attended his marriage on his personal insistence. Time went by ..... His first girl child was born.
He insisted on my choosing and giving the child her name and blessing her. I went to the then Home Minister’s bungalow on the banks of the beautiful Brahmaputra and named and blessed his lovely baby. I can never forget that afternoon, his happiness and laughter along with the baby’s gurgling still ringing in my ears as if it was just yesterday.
And today that beautiful bride is a young widow ... And that little baby must have grown into a beautiful young woman. Why Bhrigu, did you die so young, leaving them so desolate so soon?
We last met at Kamakhya Temple during the last elections. He was standing as a candidate for AGP and I for BJP. He was shy and embarrassed. He touched my feet and asked me to forgive him for standing opposite me. He said this was his last chance for changing his frustrations and political loss into a win. I embraced him tightly and said there was no question of my forgiving him, and said I would be very happy if he won against me.
As we completed our prayers at Maa Kamakhya’s feet, he looked at me quizzically and helplessly, tired, thin and lost and said “Bhupenda we have both prayed for success to the Goddess, whose prayers will she hear and grant?” And I had replied laughing “Maa Kamakhya will see that the best man wins”.
Yes, Bhrigu you, the best man did win .... Maa Kamakhya heard your prayers and granted them. She embraced you forever ... because you were her best man.
You will never be forgotten Bhrigu .... by every man, woman and child of Asom, for who’s freedom and recognition of their identity you sacrificed your life.I will never forget you Bhrigu .... You are and were one of the best among the best men. May your soul rest in peace.
(Published on the occasion of Bhrigu Phukan’s Adya Shraddha).

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