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Anjan Dutta breathes his last

Ailing for over a month, APCC president passes away at AIIMS in Delhi Pall of gloom descends on State Congress, last rites at Sivasagar today

Our Bureau

Guwahati/ Sivasagar, June 16: State Congress president Anjan Dutta, who had been under treatment for more than a month in Delhi after his return from a trip to South Africa, passed away suddenly on Thursday morning.

Doctors at AIIMS where he was undergoing treatment said Dutta died of cardiac arrest at around 7.15 am. Dutta’s wife and three daughters were with him when he breathed his last.

Dutta, a former Transport minister of Assam and three-time legislator from Amguri constituency, was first admitted at the Indraprastha Apollo on May 12 and was shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on May 18.

Dutta had gone to South Africa after the Assam assembly elections in April and fell sick on his return.

Earlier, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had visited Dutta at the AIIMS to enquire about his health. On Thursday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi went to pay their respects to the departed Congress leader. The AICC later condoled his death as a huge loss to the party.

Expressing “deep shock and grief” over Dutta’s demise and extending her condolences to his wife and daughters, Sonia Gandhi said that in his death, not only the Assam State Congress, but the entire Congress party and the State has lost a leader committed to the people.

The mortal remains of Dutta was brought to Guwahati in a special flight at 7.45 pm today, and then taken to Rajiv Bhavan and his Rukminigaon residence. Amidst a sorrowful atmosphere at Rajiv Bhavan, senior Congress leaders including Tarun Gogoi as well as rank and file members paid their last respects to the departed leader.

It has been learnt that Dutta’s remains will be taken by a special flight to Jorhat tomorrow morning, then onwards by road to Amguri and Sivasagar and thereafter brought back to be laid in state at a playground in Sivasagar. His last rites will be performed tomorrow evening.

Earlier, a condolence meeting was held in the afternoon at Rajiv Bhavan under the chairmanship of former CM Bhumidhar Barman. All senior leaders of the party, including Tarun Gogoi, Pradyut Bordoloi and Rakibul HUssain were present at the meeting.

“It is a loss not just for the Congress but for the entire State. He was a Congressman throughout his life. He worked very hard in the last assembly elections. His health was also good as he had undertaken a  number of padayatras,” said Tarun Gogoi.

“We never imagined he would depart at such a young age, leaving us all bereft. He was a dymic leader and always encouraged the youth. When I visited him at the AIIMS recently, not for a moment did I think he would never return,” said a despondent Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia.

Condoling his demise, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said Dutta made immense contribution to the field of politics and his death is a loss to the State’s social life.

“As a minister he tried his best to uphold the principles of democracy and performed efficiently. Even as a litterateur, he had carved a niche for himself,” Sonowal said.

“It is a shocking news for all of us. We were aware about Dutta’s ill health but this was not expected,” said APCC vice president Ripun Bora.

Dutta became the Assam State Congress president in December 2014.

Dutta was born to Late Thaneswar Dutta and Late Anjali Dutta on April 13, 1952 in Sivasagar district. He is the second child in the family.

His father was an active participant in the politics of his times, chairing the Municipal Board in Sivasagar. He is very often referred to as the architect of modern Sivasagar town as he had tremendously contributed towards its development.

From his childhood days, Anjan Dutta was immensely influenced by his father and carried forward his legacy. As the Transport minister, Anjan Dutta was largely credited, even by his critics, for reviving the almost dying Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC), receiving accolades across the State for doing so. In his innings as Industry minister, he brought life and vigour in the Assam Tea Corporation and set benchmarks for his colleagues and other promising ministers.

Anjan Dutta enjoyed marital bliss by marrying Anya Dutta on 5 May, 1986. The couple was blessed with three daughters.

Dutta represented the Amguri legislative constituency for the period from 1991 to 1996, 2001 to 2006 and again from 2011 till 2016. His eldest daughter Ankita had contested from the seat in the recently concluded assembly elections. However, Dutta aggressively campaigned for his party across the length and breadth of the State during the recent polls.

Dutta, also the editor of Mahekiya Anubhuti (an Assamese monthly magazine), had established a firm footing in numerous fields ranging from politics, sports, literature etc. He was the vice president of Assam Olympic Association and president of Sivasagar District Sports Association.

Dutta used to be the president of Assam Pradesh Youth Congress (APYC) Committee and also served as the chairman of North East Youth Congress Co-ordition Committee (NEYCCC).

Dutta was also known as a creative writer. He started his literary activities in his school days as the editor of a monthly magazine med ‘Anubhuti’. He expressed his literary interests by writing various articles in several newspapers and magazines. His ‘Anubhuti’ magazine, published in 1972 continued for more than ten years. He took charge as the secretary of Rongpur Xahitya Xabha during the time of Assam Movement. He has been the life-time member of Axom Xahitya Xabha (AXX) since 1980.

He was the owner and maging editor of the now-defunct Assamese daily newspaper ‘Ajir Dainik Batori’.

Others who expressed condolences at Anjan Dutta’s demise are Governor PB Acharya, Speaker Ranjit Kumar Das, former chief minister PK Mahanta, former Speaker Prab Kumar Gogoi, AGP president Atul Bora, AGP legislator Phani Bhusan Choudhury, BPF president Hagrama Mohilary, ministers Chandra Mohan Patwary, Rihon Daimary, Keshab Mahanta, Parimal Shuklabaidya, Pallav Lochan Das, APCC, APMCC, Youth Congress, NSUI, Sewa Dal, State BJP, MPs Biren Singh Engti, Bhubaneswar Kalita, AICC secretary Bhupen Bora, AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal, MLAs Tapan Kumar Gogoi, Ajanta Neog, Asom Yuba Parishad, Asom Mahila Parishad, ASTC workers union, Assam Olympic Association and Assam Badminton Association.

About the author

Ankur Kalita