You Too Left Us Bhupen Da ……. !!!


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA          NOVEMBER  09, 2011           03 .45 P.M.

Today in the morning Bhupen Da’s mortal remains were consigned to flames . I was watching live telecast of Bhupen Hazarika’s cremation from Guwahati , I was choked with emotions . When his footprints were taken and were shown to grieving millions , I too , sitting in the hall of my apartment , paid my obeisance . Bard of North – East is gone . Ballade singer of mighty Brahmaputra is silenced forever . The greatest icon of Assam is no longer with us .

Guwahati was supposed to bid farewell to Bhupen Hazarika on Tuesday . But his funeral was differed by one more day , so that unending stream of people  could pay respect to the departed icon . More than 1 million turned to the Judges Field , where his body was kept in glass casket , to pay respect . There were three km. long serpentine queues of grieving people , willing to stand for hours , for the last darshan of the most famous Indian of Assam . Shops and other business establishments were closed as mark of respect for Bhupen Da . Since buses and other modes of transport were not plying on roads of Guwahati  ,  people walked several km. to reach Judges Field for the last glimpse of Bhupen Da .

All the roads of Guwahati were full of grieving people since Monday morning. His hearse took seven hours to cover 30 km . distance before it could reach his ancestral home from Guwahati airport .

Bhupen Da died on November 05 , 2011 , at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital , Mumbai due to Pneumonia and multiple organ failure. He was 85 years old at the time of his death . His mortal remains were flown to Guwahati on Monday and cremation took place today . Government of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have declared State mourning and closure of offices for the day . Assam government decided to cremate him with full state honours .

Born on September 08 , 1926 in Sadiya , Assam ,  Bhupen Da sang his first song , ”  BISHVO BIJOY NOJAWAN …………..  ” in Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s film ” Indramalati ” , at the age of 12 in 1939 . He also acted in the film and thus made his debut as a child actor at the age of 12 years .

After completing his intermediate from Cotton College , Assam in 1942 , he went to Benaras Hindu University for Graduation and Post – Graduation . In 1949 , he moved to New York for his PhD and got his degree in 1952 .

While in New York , Bhupen Da became close friends with Afro – American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robesan . Bhupen Da was greatly influenced by Black Pride movement of Robeson and Robeson’s song ” Ole Man River ” made lasting impression on him . And years later Bhupen Da created his own ode to river Ganga ; ” BISTIRNO PARORE ”  in Assamese and ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON ”  in Hindi .

In 1956 Bhupen Da moved to Mumbai to work in IPTA [ Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association ] and worked with Balraj Sahni and other Communist comrades.

He produced , directed , gave music and sung for numerous Assamese films like ;Era Bator Sur ” [ 1956 ] , ” Mahut Bandhu Re ” [ 1958 ] , ” Shakuntala ” [ 1960 ] , ” Pratishwani ” [ 1964 ] , ” Ka Swariti ” [ 1964 ] , ” Loti Ghoti ” [ 1967 ] , and ” Chick Mick Bijuli ” [ 1971 ] . For ” Shakuntala ” , ” Pratidhwani ” and ” Lotighoti ” , he won National Award also for music .

He directed a colour Documentary, ” For Whom The Sun Shines ” [ 1974 ] on Tribal Folk Music and Dance of Arunachal Pradesh . He also produced , directed and composed music for ” Mera Dharam Meri Maa ” [ 1977 ] , first Hindi colour feature film of Arunachal Pradesh .

He produced and composed music for critically acclaimed Hindi feature film ;  ” Ek Pal ” [ 1986 ] ,  Later on he composed music for films like ; ” Rudali ” [ 1993 ] , ” Darmiyan ” [ 1997 ] , ” Saaz ” [ 1998 ] , ” Gaja Gamini ” [ 2000 ]  , ” Daman ” [ 2001 ] and ” Kyon ” [ 2003 ] .

During his earlier years , he edited two magazines in Assamese ; ” Amar Pratinidhi ” and  ”  Pratidhwani  ”  .

He was member of Legislative Council of Assam [ MLC ] from 1967 to 1972 and President of Sangeet Natak Academy from 1999 to 2004. He even contested Lok Sabha election on BJP ticket in 2004 .

He got Padma Shree in 1977 , Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1993 , Padma Bhushan in 2003 and Asom Ratna in 2009 .He was awarded Muktijoddha Padak , Highest Civilian Award of Bangladesh , posthumously in 2011 .

His last song was for the film ” Gandhi To Hitler ” [ 2011 ]  , where he sang ” Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye …… ” .

I am extremely fortunate that I met him once . In early 90s , I went to meet Ms. Kalpana Lajmi for some work in her under – production film . There I saw a man , who was looking very similar to Bhupen Da . I said , ” Sir , aap Bhupen Da jaise dikhte hain . ” To my utter shock and amazement that man smiled and said , ” Beta , Main Bhupen Da hi hoon . ” He kept on smiling and looked at me very tenderly . I was petrified . I stood up immediately and prostrated in front of him and touched his feet . I apologized profusely . He simply said , ” koi baat nahin . ”  Any other person in his place would have felt offended . But Bhupen Da was kindness personified . I consider myself fortunate that I got his blessings .

He wrote and sang more than 1000 songs . Of all his songs , I like ” SAMAY O DHEERE CHALO … DOOB GAYI RAH KEE NAO …. DOOR HAI PEE KA GAON ” ,  ” DIL HUM HUM KARE ……… ” , ” DOLA RE DOLA ……. ” , ” MANUSH MANUSHER JANYE ….. ” , ” AAMI EK JAJABOR …… ”  and his immortal ode to river Ganga ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON ……… ” and its Bengali and Assamese versions ” BISTEERNO DUPARE ……. ” .

You have to listen to his Immortal ode to Ganga to know the impact it created throughout Assam and entire North East region . I am giving below the lyrics :

विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम          ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ ..

  • नैतिकता नष्ट हुई, मानवता भ्रष्ट हुई, निर्लज्ज भाव से बहती हो क्यूँ. . . .

    इतिहास की पुकार, करे हुंकार, ओ गंगा की धार, निर्बल जन को सबल संग्रामी, समग्रगामी. . बनाती नही हो क्यूँ. . . .

    विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम. .. ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ . ..

  • अनपढ़ जन अक्षरहीन अनगिन जन खाद्यविहीन निद्रवीन देख मौन हो क्यूँ ?

    व्यक्ति रहित व्यक्ति केन्द्रित सकल समाज व्यक्तित्व रहित निष्प्राण समाज को छोडती न क्यूँ ?

    रुतस्विनी क्यूँ न रही ? तुम निश्चय चितन नहीं प्राणों में प्रेरणा प्रेरती न क्यूँ ?

    उन्मद अवनी कुरुक्षेत्र बनी गंगे जननी नव भारत में भीष्म रूपी सूत समरजयी जनती नहीं

  • Bhupen Hazarika
  • Much is said about his leftist leanings . If a person is writing odes to Mother Ganga and bemoaning about fate of current India and clamours for the rebirth of a warrior like Bhishma Pitamah , can he be called a leftist ? Bhupen Da was a true nationalist and Communists simply tried to appropriate his legacy but failed . During Chinese attack on India in 1962 , he sang KATO JAWANOR MRITYU HOL …… ( so many soldiers have died ) and bemoaned about shatrur poshuttwo ( barbarity of enemy ) . Can he be called a communist ? No way !
  • Even ULFA [ United Liberation Front of Asom ] tried to appropriate him . Bhupen Da sang during Quit India movement ” AGNIJUGOR FIRINGOTI MOI……… ” ( I am a spark in the age of fire … ) . and later on SURYODAY JODI LAKKHYA  AMAR , SURYASTOR PINEY DHABOMAN KIYO ……… ( if sunrise is what we seek , then why are we reacting towards sunset ) . Can he be called ULFA sympathiser because rising sun is ULFA symbol ? Then , rising sun is the symbol of Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam also . Does it mean that Bhupen Da was a DMK sympathiser or card – holder ? Utter nonsense .

  • In June my wife was admitted in ICU of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. Bhupen Da was in the adjacent room. That was the last I saw him .

Farewell Bhupen Da ! Your mortal remains are gone but through your songs and music , you shall always be with us . There shall never be another Bhpen Hazarika ever .

Irom Sharmila’s 11 Years v/s Anna Hazare’s 12 Days

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA             SEPTEMBER 06, 2011           08.30 P.M.

I am all for eradication of corruption. And if Anna Hazare is spear-heading a movement and went for a 12 days fast for the cause , it is a welcome sign and it should get wholehearted support of the nation and people. Government of the day and the parliament took cognizance of his endeavour and parliamentarians cutting across party line went into huddle and passed the resolution for the Lokpal bill , as was demanded by Team Anna . Vilas Rao Deshmukh , a central minister , was dispatched to the Ramlila ground with the letter of the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh , informing him that the resolution is passed by the parliament and that he should now break his fast. Very next day Ana Hazare ended his fast and the nation was relieved.

I fail to understand the mindset of our national and regional parties. If Anna’s fast can galvanize whole nation and everyone was concerned for his life, why this concern is not shown to Irom Sharmila Chanu , 38 , who is fasting since November 02 , 2000. She stopped eating when Assam Rifles troopers , while chasing militants , killed 10 villagers at Malom village . She was subsequently arrested and now being force – fed through a nasal tube in a hospital. It is now 11 year-long hunger strike and no one is concerned. The central government , political parties of all hue and colours , the electronic and print media , the intellectuals and conscience – keepers of our country and various NGOs , working in different sectors , all , either ignored her or didn’t show concern . National Human Rights Commission [ NHRC ] and National Commission for Women [ NCW ] are intriguingly silent too . Why ? Is it because she hails from North East India or more precisely from Manipur ? is her life not precious enough ? Is she a child of a lesser God ? Is she not even a speck in the scheme of the nation called India ?

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu

India’s neglected North East Region and our so-called love for our motherland is a conundrum. Assam , Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya , Nagaland , Manipur ,Tripura and Mizoram are called 7 sisters and they are part of  North East India. Now Sikkim is also  part of the North East and should be included in the group . This makes total 8 provinces in the region.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Apart from Assam , two other provinces of North East ; Manipur and Tripura were in existence even at the time of independence . Later on Nagaland was created in 1963 and finally in 1972 during Indira Gandhi‘s tenure Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya and Mizoram came into existence and thus 7 sisters were born. Sikkim also became a part of India in 1975 during Indira Gandhi’s tenure.

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim



Soon after independence , people in Nagaland and Mizoram started agitation for independence. Armed struggle is being carried on since then. The Nagas were the first one to demand a sovereign nation for Nagas. Their leader Angami Zapu Phizo formed Naga National Council and on August 14, 1947 started armed struggle for independent Nagalim. In 1963 central government gave statehood to Nagaland as the 16th state of Indian Union and started peace talks. In 1980 National Socialist Council of Nagalim was formed by T. Muivah , Isak Swu and S. Khaplang and they are still fighting in Nagaland , though now they are devided into two separate factions.; NSCN [ I – M ] and NSCN [ Khaplang ] . So far more than 25,000 lives have been lost in the bloody struggle of Nagaland.



Laldenga and his Mizo National Front waged war for independence in Mizoram. In 1986 after the Mizo Accord, though,  insurgency ended but Hmar People’s Convention – Democratic and The Bru National Liberation Front have kept the flame alive.



Meghalaya , though , relatively peaceful have two organizations fomenting trouble . They are ; The Achik National Volunteer Council formed in 1995 for an Achik Land in Garo Hills and  The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council formed in 1992 to free state from Garo and non – tribal Indian domination.



At the end of 1970 several insurgent groups emerged in Tripura and started fight for the safeguard of tribal rights and end of the dominance of Bengalis from mainland India. Main among them are : National Liberation Front of Tripura formed in 1989 and All Tripura Tigers Force formed in 1990 .



The biggest state of North East India is troubled because of porous borders with Bangladesh . Anti – foreign agitation of 1980 spawned many insurgent groups in Assam. Main among them are : United Liberation Front of Asom formed in 1979 to establish a sovereign , independent Assam , National Democratic Front of Bodoland formed in 1989 to establish autonomous region of Bodoland , Karbi Longri N.C. Hills Liberation Front  formed in 2004 to fight for the cause of Karbi tribes and United People’s Democratic Solidarity formed in 1999 to fight for self-rule of Karbi trbes of Karbi Anglong. At present Assam is the most disturbed state of North East.



State of Meiteis , who are Vaishnavites by faith , is also troubled and it started when some Naga organizations gave call to include Naga inhabited areas of Manipur into Greater Nagaland. Most important insurgent group of Manipur is Peoples Liberation Army formed in 1978 with the sole aim of liberating Manipur from India . The second one ; United National Liberation Front was created in 1964 and it also demands independence . Third important group ; Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak is also an organization of some importance demanding independence from Indian rule.

Above mentioned facts are very basic and known history of the insurgency in the North Eastern Region. To counter these movements and armed struggles , Government of India promulgated AFSPA  , [ Armed Forces Special Powers Act ] of 1958 in the region. This act gives sweeping powers to armed forces. It gives them license to kill . Currently AFSPA is in force in Assam , Nagaland , Manipur [ barring some areas in and around Imphal , the capital of the state ] , 2 districts of Arunachal Pradesh [ Tirap and Changlang ] and some areas of Tripura .

People of North East resent the draconian AFSPA and they want its removal . Removal of AFSPA is demanded in Jammu & Kashmir also. I am intrigued that  removal of AFSPA is being considered sympathetically by the central government in Jammu & Kashmir but when it comes to Manipur or other areas of North East it is refused point blank. Recently Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited Manipur and said that since there is no consensus , so AFSPA cant be removed. Was there consensus about Anna Hazare’s demand in the beginning ? Everyone sat and consensus emerged. If consensus could be manufactured in Anna’s case , why can’t it be done in the case of Irom Sharmila Chanu ? Anna’s fast is hailed as the democratic right of citizen of this country and his subsequent victory is heralded as the sign of vibrant democracy but Irom Sharmila’s fast is viewed as sedition. Anna got all the sympathy and Irom Sharmila got indifference.

Is it sign of vibrant democracy that people of Manipur had to agitate for the creation of a new district ; Sadar Hills ? Mayawati , the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , creates districts at her whims and fancies and central government acquiesces. But in Manipur a tribal organization resorted to economic blockade for creation of Sadar Hills and no one took cognizance. A sense of outrage engulfed me when I saw a photo of a group of women protesting naked for the removal of AFSPA. Still no cognizance was taken. Insensitive central government ignores all the above mentioned demands , though the method was pure Gandhian , but the same government is willing to talk to the militants of Jammu & Kashmir for the removal of AFSPA . Can anyone explain me the cause for this partiality? If central government has no qualms in talking to Syed Ali Shah Geelani , Yasin Malik or other leaders of separatist Hurriyat Conference , then what is the hitch in talking to Irom Sharmila Chanu , who is not a militant or not resorting to armed struggle ? Of late talks are going on with ULFA leaders of Assam and NSCN [ I – M ] of Nagaland , who are waging armed struggle against Indian Union, but the silent , non – violent and peaceful movement of Irom Sharmil and the other women of Manipur is completely ignored.

I am pained , aggrieved and outraged . I can’t do much because I am too insignificant. But I firmly believe that if central government can talk to separatists of Hurriyat Conference of Jammu & Kashmir , then it can talk to Irom Sharmila Chanu also. If government of India can work out modalities for the breaking of the fast of Anna Hazare , then it can work out something for Irom Sharmila also. If consensus was evolved for Anna’s cause , it could be evolved for Irom Sharmila’s cause also. 12 days of Anna’s fast is too much but 11 years of Irom Sharmila’s fast is a lifetime.

Something should be done and it should be done soon.

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu






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