Mihir Kanta Barooah: A friend rather than a colleague
Though senior to me in service, both I and Mihir Kanta Barooah had cultivated deep understandings between us because of certain common outlooks in respect of the future of the civil life of Assam. His dauntless and absolutely honest mindset had further brought him closer to me.
One may recall that prior to the advent of the Jata regime, there was total lawlessness, of all places, in the State administration which late Golap Borbora, the ex-Chief Minister, could discern this unhappy state of affairs, immediately after he took over as CM. It was sheer brilliant, reputation and time-tested efficiency of Mihir Barooah which were instrumental in Borbora opting for the services of Barooah, who was then on deputation to the TB. Barooah was immediately put in charge of the Special Branch, the eyes and ears of the State Government. I was then DIG (Border). Barooah’s induction into the most vital organ of the administration, also gave me an opportunity to work in cohesion with him. His suggestion and advice proved invaluable to me. In fact, Barooah, humble self, the then IGP late Pradip Das and Chief Secretary Paramshivam functioned as close knit team vis-a-vis the mece of ubated infiltration from Bangladesh. It was in consultation with Barooah and the Chief Secretary that I had worked out a detailed scheme for reorganizing and modernizing the River Police Organisation, which was however, sabotaged by vested interest after the fall of Borbora government. Almost immediately after that I was arrested and detained under NSA, on absolutely fabricated allegations. Soon ouster of Mihir Barooah also followed. It was in this context that Barooah’s uncompromising strength of character surfaced. I have filed a Tittle Suit in the Session Court against my detention and subsequent dismissal. The SB of the State Government, Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau of the Central Government, the RAW and other intelligence agencies had nothing to report against me. After filing the case I approached a number of officers for deposing in the Court. But for fear of causing the displeasure of the then State Government, nobody was ready to depose in the Court except late Mihir Barooah and late B. S. Babar. In fact they could not care less. Meanwhile the case was transferred to Central Administrative Tribul where the verdict was delivered in my favour. Though ultimately the case went to the Supreme Court, I won the case there too. During all these days of adversities, Barooah was steadfast in my support. How can I forget such fearless treatment of the entire episode by Barooah?
In fact it was Barooah, who inspired me to write short stories. Whenever my short stories appeared in the print media, Barooah used to invariably ring me up and alyzed the subject matter of my stories. The last short story I have written about the character of prostitute had impressed him the most.
At this evening of life, memories of my association with Barooah, occupy one of the top positions in my list of priorities.
May God bless his departed soul with eterl peace.
Hiranya Kumar Bhattacharyya
I met Mihir in 1946 when both of us came to Gauhati (now Guwahati) for admission in the Intermediate Science classes of Cotton College. He passed the Matriculation examition from Sibsagar Government High School under Calcutta (now Kolkata) University with flying colours, securing star. In our days securing star in matriculation Examition was the hallmark for very brilliant students. He was staying in third mess of the Cotton Hostel, whereas I was staying in the newly established Donbosco Hostel in Panbazar. Since then, our intimacy grew and in the fourth year, when I shifted to third mess both of us were in the same hostel, and as a result, we met almost every day. In BSc. fil examition, Mihir secured first class first position in Statistics and then did his MSc. in Statistics from Gauhati University, securing first class first position. For Post-Graduate study I went to Calcutta and by the time Mihir completed his MSc. in 1952, I had already joined the Assam Civil Service. Mihir also joined the Assam Civil Service in 1953 securing first position in the APSC examition and worked as an EAC in Gauhati. In 1954 he appeared in the all India Civil Services Examition and was selected to Indian Police Service. He topped the list of IPS officers of that batch. After his training he was allotted to Assam cadre of IPS. At that time I was working in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Shillong. While he was working as Sub-Divisiol Police Officer, Mangaldoi, the Home Ministry informed the State Government that Mihir had been picked up as an ‘earmarked officer’ for the Intelligence Bureau and as per system prevalent at that time, he would not be reverted to State Government till he attained the seniority of Deputy Inspector General of Police. At that time there was no post of Director General of Police in the State and Inspector General was the top post.
In the seventies, I came to the Assam Secretariat from Cachar and was appointed Secretary to the State Government in Home, Political and few other departments. In addition to this, I was Secretary to the Chief Minister. In 1979 when late Golap Borbora was the Chief Minister, we initiated a proposal to bring back Mihir as the Special Inspector General of the Intelligence Branch of Assam Police. Government of India accepted our proposal and Mihir came to Guwahati as the Chief of the State Intelligence Branch. In the meantime President’s Rule was imposed in Assam. During this period I worked very closely with Mihir and was simply stunned to see his superb alytical thinking as well as prompt disposal of even very serious problems. At that time the Assam Agitation was in full form. In 1982, I left the Home Department and went to a course in Administrative Staff College of India. In the meantime for reasons not known to me Mihir reverted to Government of India and joined as the Chief Vigilance Advisor of a major Government petroleum Company.
Thereafter, whenever I went to Delhi, I used to meet Mihir in his office at Hindustan Times Building. We again came to close contact, when the Petroleum Company posted him at Guwahati for liaison with the State Government for setting up Numaligarh Refinery. At that time I was Advisor to the Chief Minister and as such closely involved in this project.
Thereafter, I occasiolly met Mihir who was very heart broken after the sudden death of his younger daughter at Guwahati.
On this day I pay my homage to the hallowed memory of Mihir Kanta Barooah and pray to the Almighty to give eterl peace to the noble soul.