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Rupam Gogoi martyred before he could uplift his village

Sister Rasna Gogoi and Brother-in-law Pranjal Jyoti Saikia talked to MELANGE about the fallen soldier whose dream of building a home for his mother remained unrealised

Rupam Gogoi martyred before he could uplift his village

Sentinel Digital Desk


Rupam Gogoi belonged to the Nagajanka village of Mariani in the Jorhat district of Assam. He was the first child born to his father late Bhaben Gogoi and his mother Hiranya Gogoi on October 24 of 1984. His sister Rasna Gogoi was born one and a half years later on April 20 of 1986.

He completed his matriculation exam from the Bongshi Gopal High School in Mariani of Jorhat District in Assam. After that, he was admitted to Mariani College for his Higher Secondary course. On the completion of this, he got the chance to follow in his father's footsteps and joined the Indian Army. He joined the 10th Battalion of the Assam Regiment, the same regiment as his father late Bhaben Gogoi.

His joining and training were in the Regimental Headquarters located in Shillong along with his initial posting. He was a part of the UN Peacekeeping Force Congo in South Africa. The battalion was posted in the border regions of Kashmir soon after they retired from the overseas assignment.

Brother-in-law Pranjal Jyoti Saikia recollects the stories that Rupam Gogoi had shared about his experiences in Congo. He mentioned the need to keep their identities secret at all times to prevent any harm and how people were gunned down indiscriminately even in public places by the local insurgents. But according to Pranjal Jyoti Saikia, the most surprising part was that they had to serve under a Pakistani Commanding Officer during the overseas mission.

"He used to love me a lot. He used to tease me whenever I was at home and get worried when I was outside and would enqire where I was from our mother," sister Rasna Gogoi recalled.

Rupam Gogoi was posted in Kashmir near the Line of Control when the incident took place on March 28, 2009. He was leading a team of 15 soldiers on their routine patrol when they were ambushed. Records show that they took down about 7 insurgents before he was hit by an enemy bullet. The bullet had hit the nape of his neck, just below the protective helmet. He was shifted to the nearest base hospital immediately, but the injuries were too grave.

He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously for his exceptional bravery and sacrifice during the operation.

Rasna Gogoi said that he was a very good Bihuwa (Bihu dancer). All the local boys used to follow his direction and take part in local events, especially during Bohag Bihu. Even when he was away, he used to keep stock of the preparations and everything that was ongoing in the village. He was an active member of the local committees and clubs and take the initiative in developmental projects.

"He had told me to weave for him a traditional Gamocha (scarf) with big flowers and a Tongali (traditional waistband) for taking part in the local Bihu celebrations when he reached home," she added. Although she had completed weaving the garments as her brother had asked her to, she was not able to give them to him when he was alive.

Rupam Gogoi had called up his family the night before the incident. He enquired about the well-being of his mother and sister over the call. He also asked about the status of the preparations for Bihu.

He was supposed to board the train soon after completing his round. But the soldier returned home four days later in a decorated coffin.

His sister recalls the day of the incident. She mentioned that one of his fellow soldiers called up her number and enquired about who she was. Then he asked if there was a social event on the cards since Rupam Gogoi had applied for a long leave. Thereafter the soldier informed them that he had been hit by a bullet and shifted to the hospital, but everything is fine and he would soon recover. They received another call at around 8 pm that day announcing the loss.

Rasna Gogoi's husband Pranjal Jyoti Saikia remembers his brother-in-law as a very active man. He used to participate in all matters pertaining to his locality and wanted the uplift of the village. People used to invite him to their home whenever he came on leave and he happily responded to all the invitations. He also wanted to implement all the knowledge that he had gathered during his endeavours in uplifting his village. Pranjal remembers the whole village being happy when he came home during his leaves, and sad when he used to go back. Even today villagers say that there would have been more development in the village if he was still around. He mentioned that Rupam already knew that they wanted to marry, but sadly he was not able to attend their wedding.

The family made a memorial in his name in the school where he studied. Since he loved Bihu so much, they also sponsored a rolling trophy every year in his name in the local Bihu celebration.

"The last time Rupam Gogoi left for duty, he had asked me to drop him at the Mariani railway station so that he could catch his train. I gladly dropped him on my bicycle. He always used to say that he wanted to build a nice house for his mother. He also said that he wanted to see his sister happily married and told us to look after his family in his absence. Although he was elder than me, we had a very friendly relationship," said Pranjal Jyoti Saikia.

The soldier sent money to his sister to buy the necessary things to start the construction of his house. He wanted to keep his mother in the home that he built and marry off his only sister from that house. But that aim was never fulfilled.

Rasna Gogoi and Pranjal Jyoti Saikia have a five-year-old son and a daughter in class five. They mentioned that they will send their children to the forces to follow in the footsteps of their maternal uncle and grandfather if they wanted to join the Army. The family also appealed to the state government to rename the road leading to their village in Rupam's name so that future generations remembered him.

Also Read: Martyr Lance Naik Pushpadhar Changmai Never Missed Bihu Celebrations

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