Jadu Kakati: A dedicated jourlist

Jadu Kakati:  A dedicated jourlist

DN Chakravartty

Jadu Kakati, one of the seniormost jourlists of the State is 83 today. It was in September 1949 that as the newly elected union secretary of J.B. College, Jorhat, I found Jadu Kakati as a class representative of our students' union. I learnt from him that he was from mti and did his matriculation from mti High School. In our school and college days mti was known for the first batch of Assamese communist thinkers like Late Jagath Bhattacharjya and revolutiory communist Khagendra th Barbarua under whose magic spell overwhelming majority of the school and college students of mti area embraced communism. But Jadu Kakati, whose father was a tea garden babu, was a staunch devotee of Gandhiji and a silent supporter of Congress freedom fighters, giving shelter to many fugitive Congress volunteers from the clutches of the police force.

Jadu Kakati, like myself, was a member of the students' Congress and was a youth Congress leader till 1951. Kakati and I chased identical political philosophy of liberal democracy and our guiding storm in our student days were Pandit Nehru, Hem Barua and Bipinpal Das. As a boarder of the J.B. College Hostel, Kakati used to invite me very often to share a cup of tea with a slice of bread or some biscuits and gave me liberty to glance hurriedly through the pages of several books on history, politics and literature piled over his bed and on table and also kept in his steel trunk below his bedstead. I still remember borrowing from him a few books by D.F. Karaka, J.C. Kumarappa, Minoo Masani and P.C. Joshi of C.P.I.

An interesting event of our college days may be of interest to our readers. It was in December, 1949 when Acharajya J.B. Kripalani, the President of the Indian tiol Congress came to Jorhat to address as the chief guest of the Annual Conference of the Assam Students' Congress. As the union secretary of the college I wanted to invite the great Gandhian to address the students of our college. Our Principal, late Tulasi rayan Sarma evinced great interest when I and Jadu Kakati sought his clearance to extend invitation to the tiol leader. But Kripalaniji flatly refused to address our college students separately on the plea that he would address the open conference of the students' Congress. Kakati and I reported to Principal Sarma about our failure to convince Kripalani about the importance of visiting the premier non-government college of the State. The critical remarks of the Principal on the failure of our mission prompted me and Kakati to approach Kripalani once again. The argument we offered and the sentiment both of us displayed so vigorously before the sharp tongued leader eventually yielded result and Kripalani agreed to address our students only for 10 minutes. He came and before a packed hall of students and teachers he spoke for more than an hour in his inimitable English, keeping the whole audience spell bound. It was at the suggestion of Jadu Kakati that I invited several illustrious persolities like Sir Md. Saadullah, Hem Barua, Ambikagiri Rai Choudhury, J.C. Kuppa, Gandhian Aryya yakam, Prof Sarangapani and Dr. A.R. Baji to address our students.

After his graduation, he started his career as a school teacher and served at Along, Tezu and Duliajan, besides his earlier stint at mti High School for a short while. A few well known Aruchalis who, were Kakati's students five decades ago, still lovingly and gratefully acknowledge the good things they learnt from their ideal teacher. Kakati was brought to the world of jourlism by Chandra Prasad Saikia who was editing a very popular and largely circulated bi-weekly Asam Batori. As an Assistant Editor of the bi-weekly, Kakati contributed immensely to the success of the paper commercially as well as intellectually. Kakati became a powerful political commentator when he joined Neelachal weekly edited by Homen Borgohain from 1968 to 1974. That the Neelachal could earn the rare distinction of the only Assamese weekly to be grouped among six most powerful political weeklies of the country was primarily due to the imagition and dexterity of both Homen Borgohain and Jadu Kakati. He also made substantial contribution towards the growth and development of Dainik Jambhumi which he served from 1974 to 1978 as the special representative in Guwahati.

The period from 1979 to 1991 was actually the hay day for Kakati when he served Dainik Agradoot as its Assistant Editor. Besides using thought providing features in Agradoot, Kakati utilized this time to make regular reviews of Assembly proceeding which were widely appreciated because of their objective criticism well supported by a vast reservoir of background information. As a strong exponent of freedom of expression and right of jourlists, Jadu Kakati has always been in the vanguard in waging a relentless battle in ameliorating the hardships both of the working jourlist as well as the ones known as Mufussal Correspondents.

It was because of his razor sharp oratory and powerful writings that he became the office bearer of several organizations of the jourlists,  including the Guwahati Jourlist Association, Assam Jourlist Association and Jourlist Association of Assam, which he served with distinction. He was a founder member and president of the Guwahati Press Club, member of the Press Accreditation Committee and President of the Assam Assembly Press Reporters' Committee. As a freelance jourlist from 1991, Kakati has been contributing thought provoking and informative articles in almost all the important dailies and periodicals of Assam. Kakati's contribution in the grand celebration of the 150th anniversary of jourlism in Assam will be written with letters of gold in the history of jourlism of this State. Kakati who has been closely associated with late Prafulla Chandra Barua in the setting up of the Media Trust, played a very significant role over a decade in building up the Media Trust as a premier research and teaching organization in the domain of jourlism in Assam.

Not many jourlists in Assam have been so successful in focusing on the contemporary socio-political life of Assam, which has been the unique distinction of Jadu Kakati. May God grant him good health to serve the tion for a couple of decades more.

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