Notable Personalities from Assam who bid Goodbye to the World in 2019
2019 was an emotional year of saying goodbye as it marked the loss of several inspiring and hard-working individuals from Assam belonging to the worlds of entertainment, literature, journalism and politics. As the year comes to an end, G Plus remembers these towering personalities of Guwahati who passed away this year and looks back at their lives, careers and the lasting memories they left behind.
1. Former DGP Khagen Sarma
Former Director General of Police Khagen Sarma passed away on October 25, 2019.
Sarma was a 1982-batch IPS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre who took charge as the DGP in 2014.
He was suffering from prolong illness before passing away. He is survived by wife and two children.
Credited for dealing firmly with militant outfits and bringing them to the negotiating table, Sarma had served the state police with dedication and commitment.
He had served in Assam Police's Special Branch (SB) as the IGP and ADGP, when he successfully brought the ULFA and both factions of the NDFB to the negotiating table.
On January 24, 2012, during his tenure as the ADGP (SB), 668 militants belonging to nine terror outfits of the state surrendered before the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. In 2015, he retired as DGP of the state.
2. Ratna Ojha
Veteran theatre personality Ratna Ojha passed away in Guwahati on December 31, following a brief illness. He was 88 years old.
Ojha was a pioneer in the Assamese theatre industry and he started the street theatre movement in 1971.
He started street plays in Assam with a skit called ‘Kokaideo’.
Some of Ojha’s notable works include, Gohbor, Urbor and Kobor which was produced by his theatre troupe Gohbor Natyagosthi. Ojha also introduced cartoon theatre to the region.
3. Dilip Dutta
Dr. Dilip Dutta (80 years), former Professor of Mathematics, University of Rhode Island passed away on 26 September at his Rhode Island residence in the United States of America.
Dutta has written more than 15 Assamese books including Dr. Bhupen Hazarikar Geet aru Jibon Rath, Phali Lua Biranji, Mur Sikkha aru Mur Sikhhak, Miss Gauhati (Novel), Mone Mur Koina Bisare, which was converted into a movie, and many books on Mathematics.
He was also the ex-President of Asomiya Sahitya Sabha and was running a school at his birthplace in Jorhat.
4. Alpana Khound Phukan
Alpana Khound Phukan, Principal of Maria's Public School, Guwahati, passed away on June 19 at her residence in Guwahati.
She was battling against cancer and died at the age of 58. Her last rites were performed at Navagraha crematorium here in Guwahati. She is survived by her husband, son and daughter.
Khound had served the school for 28 years in the Department of English. She was the head of the department for about two decades and worked as the school Principal for four and a half years. She was appointed as a subject expert in English by the CBSE for AISSE (Class 10). She was also appointed Chief Nodal Officer by CBSE for evaluation for two consecutive years.
5. Umesh Chandra Sarma
Former principal of Gauhati Commerce College (GCC), Umesh Chandra Sarma, passed away at his Uzaan Bazar residence on June 25.
Sarma is survived by his wife and daughter.
Sarma was instrumental in the overall development of the college which had seen the highest growth in his tenure. The playground of GCC is named after Umesh Chandra Sarma who was one who took the onus in changing the barren land to a play ground for the students of the college.
Umesh Sarma was also ex-Ranji player and former captain of Gauhati University cricket team and was a sports pension holder.
He was also the president of Assam Veteran Cricket Association. Sarma represented Assam State Cricket Team in the Ranji Trophy in the year 1967-68.
6. Jai Kumar Kala
Jai Kumar Kala, a veteran Congress leader passed away on the morning of March 16. Born on 11 April, 1937 in Palashbari, he was one of the most prominent leaders in Congress from the Jain community.
He had served for 35 years under the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC). In 2018 he was appointed as Vice President of APCC. Then in 2001, he was appointed as Chairman of Khadi Board Assam.
7. GL Agarwalla
GL Agarwalla was the Chief Managing Director of GL Publications Ltd and an eminent social worker, philanthropist.
After fighting a prolonged illness, Agarwalla passed away at the age of 79 at his Lachit Nagar residence.
It was in 1989 that Agarwalla started GL Publications Ltd with the sole intention to publish a daily newspaper. He was a prolific writer and has been part of many path-breaking publications such as the Barpeta Zillarthaan Satra Aru Math-Mandir, Desh-Bedekhar Rong Butoli, Jugadrista Jyotiprasad. He was also associated with the publication of the first Assamese encyclopedia, Asomiya Vishwakosh which was made in collaboration with the Asam Sahitya Sabha and he was also the general secretary of the North East Newspapers’ Society.
In addition to being a flamboyant yet modest newspaperman, Agarwalla was also a pioneer of social work in Assam. His GL Social Circle is considered one of the best practices in the country and his ambulance service, which also includes a hearse service, was a first-of-its-kind in the region.