Barring a small group of people in eastern Assam’s Jorhat, under the banner of Citizens Forum, Jornat, Krishna Nath Sharma, Assam’s Mahatma Gandhi, is all but forgotten by the people of the State.
On his death anniversary on Friday, these handful of people offered rich tributes at Sharma’s bust put up at Kabita Kanan Ganesh Gogoi, a park at the Doss and Co Chariali.
Excommunicated by the orthodox higher caste community for opening the doors of his personal naamghar (prayer hall), Sharma had sacrificed his career as a lawyer to answer Gandhi’s call to join the freedom movement.
It was due to his initiative that the Congress session was held at Pandu in 1926.
Sharma had opened the doors of his naamghar so that harijans, considered as untouchables, too could worship on April 18, 1934 during his visit to Jorhat. But this had invited the anger of his community which ostracized him and his family.
Sharma’s ashram where Gandhi had visited and his grave as well as his second son’s grave are in a state of dilapidation and neglect.
“Gone are the days when the sacrifices of our freedom fighters and social reformers were extolled and honoured by the government,” Ratul Baruah, founder of Mahapurusha MadhabDeva Foundation said.
Mahatma Gandhi, in a function, had ceremonially opened the namghar doors to harijans on April 18 that year when he had visited Jorhat.
Sharma worked tirelessly for the poor and oppressed and gave his time to gather facts related to the use of opium in the North-east as the member of a committee, which had been constituted in 1924 with Kuladhar Chaliha as the chairman. This report had been presented at the League of Nations to draw the attention of the international committee to the opiate consumption and deleterious effects in the region.
A devout Brahmin, Sharma had organized the Harijan Welfare Scheme in Assam and is said to have set up 12 schools for them.
Kalidas Deva Sharma, second son of Krishna Sharma, had, with the support of his siblings and government aid, set up a vocational training centre in the memory of his father where the poor were taught carpentry, blacksmith work and other trades.
The Citizens Forum, Jorhat has taken it upon themselves to keep the Park where the bust is installed clean and sparkling with lights and fountains.