Today is the 82nd death anniversary of Deshbhakta Tarun Ram Phukan who played a pivotal role in shaping the state of Assam.
Born on January 22, 1877, Tarun Ram Phukan was a multifaceted personality, a politician, writer, hunter, and a freedom fighter. Assamese people call him "Deshbhakta" as he was a true patriot who had immense love for his country.
After completing his graduation from Calcutta's Presidency College, Phukan went to London where he studied law and earned Bar-at-Law degree. He did his schooling from Cotton Collegiate School in Guwahati.
Phukan returned to India after becoming a barrister and joined Calcutta High Court. Later, he came back to his hometown Guwahati and served as Lecturer at the Earle Law College.
Phukan joined the Congress in 1920 and played an important role in establishing the party in Assam.
When the freedom movement started under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, he gave up his flourishing practice and jumped aboard the freedom movement.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi visited Assam and stayed at his residence in Guwahati's Bharalumukh. Phukan was Gandhiji's trusted companion. They also performed the "bidexi bostro dah jagya" (burning of foreign goods) together.
The ancestral home was gifted to him by his elder brother Late Nabin Ram Phukan after he returned from London. It was built more than 120 years ago.
After the British declared Congress an illegal body, Phukan was arrested and remained in jail till November, 1922.
In 1927, he was elected as the President of Assam Sahitya Sabha at its Goalpara session for his contribution to Assamese literature. He wrote many books including a book on sexual hygiene "Jauna Tatwa", "Mur Sikar Kahini"(his experiences in hunting adventures), "Stuti mala" a book of hymns, "Nigni Bhaworiar Kahini" a book of humorous poems and others.
During his presidential address at the Sahitya Sabha session, he said, "We Assamese are a distinct nationality amongst Indians. Though our language is Sanskrit based, it is a distinct language,"
Phukan was also involved in many social works including spreading education upliftment of the underprivileged sections of society. He also fought for the removal of untouchability and advocated equality of the sexes.
He used to urge women of India to come out from the confinements of their homes and play an active role in national affairs. He also popularised the use of Khadi and other Swadeshi goods in Assam.
Tarun Ram Phukan passed away on 28 July, 1939 at the age of 62 years.
After the formation of the new government this year, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that 28 July will be observed as 'Deshbhakta Diwas' in his memory.