Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Unique Nahorkatiya..

The Baalighat at Nahorkatiya
Located on the banks of the Burhi-Dihing, Nahorkatiya (sometimes spelt as Naharkatia) is a small town of the Dibrugarh District of Asom (India). It is bounded by Duliajan, Namrup, Jeyopore (Joypur) and the hill town of Deomali (Khonsa, AP).

At an average elevation of 120m, Nahorkatiya lies between 27°17′N 95°20′E and 27.28°N 95.33°E longitude-latitudes.

Among the population of 15528, males are 53% and the rest 47% females. With a literacy rate of 78%, this town is more literate than the average of the nation which is only 60% (app). This population is an amalgam of people from various communities- Assamese, Bengalis, Biharis, Rajasthanis, Marwaris, Punjabis and also a descendant tribe of the Buddhist-Mongolians known as TaiPhaakis (Locally known as the Phaakiaals).

Nahorkatiya Railway Station
An hour of journey by train from New Tinsukia Jn. and one can land at the Nahorkatiya Rly. Station which is a distance of 28 Kms. Also buses ply daily from Tinsukia, Namrup, Duliajan, Jorhat and Dibrugarh Town. Now-a-days, also Winger, Magic and Tempo service has been introduced into the town. The only connected roadway from the Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh is to passes through this town.

There are many views of how the town got its name. History speaks that it is related to the beheading of Prince Nahor, the adopted son of Tai-Ahom King Suecafaa ( titled as Khora Roja). Prince Nahor has many atrocities with the respected people of the time and so he was entrusted to be killed to Kola Chaodung ( locally called as Kaalia). Thus resulted his death at a place near the modern day Nahorkatiya Railway Station and Shaantipaara Colony. Thus, Nahokatiya got its name from Nahor-Katiya which means beheading of Nahor. Nahorkatiya was also ruled by the Kacharis and the Maans (Burmese). Another view is that there was a large forest of Nahor trees and people cleared these by cutting the trees and so came the name of Naharkatia. Also it is believed that the big Railway Line Slipper Factory used Nahor wood for making the wooden slippers.

Sriraam Ata has founded a Neo-Vaishnavite Satra here. This is the first satra of the state where a Nocte chief Narrotama accepted faith here. Narrotama ruled at the place of present day Narrotam Nagar of Khonsa in Tirap District. Now, Narrotam Nagar house a Ramkrishna Mission. Nahorkatiya also has a Ramkrishna Sevashram.

A fort was created at nearby Joypur (now Jeypore) by Ahom General Patalsing Barbarua to block the Maans (Burmese) from entering the Kingdom. Now there is a big forest in the Joypur area which recently been awarded the status of a Reserve Forest. Historical places like Tipam and Namruk (now Namrup) surrounds the town. The oldest oil pool is located here.

The Naamphaake Village
There is a big Buddhist Monastery in the village of Naamphaake (locally called as PhaakialGaon). This monastery has the biggest dome in the country. The handicraft of the women of the village are famous nationally and internationally. Other villages are Saasoni (GaajPuria), Achabam, Kaliapani. One can find the simple village life here.

The Langharjaan Tea-Estate
The town is a commercial center for the nearby tea-gardens. The tea-gardens and the markets are the present day business for the people of the town. The sudden ban on timber-cutting has largely affected the people of the town. This forced closure of the saw-mills, plywood factories and even the large slipper factory.

When talked about drama, perhaps Nahorkatiya leads in the region. Famous drama groups like the Nahorkatiya Durgabari Drama Group, Sporters’ Union Club and Pooberoon Naatya Gustee originated from Nahorkatiya. Some famous dramatists were Sri Bishnu Kumar Dutta (my maternal grandfather by relation), Sri Devananda Das, Sri Nikhil Ch. Saha, Sri Probod Biswas, Tejendra Lal Banerjee, Sri Nagendra Nath Bhattashaali, Sri Laxxan Chenglari, Sri Rohen Sonowal, Dr. Mukut Sarmah, Sri Punaa Gogoi, Sri Basanta Dowerah (1st class 1st from Calcutta University; now a senior officer at ONGC), Sri Kumud Basu, Sri Jogesh Mazumdar, Sri Kali Sarkar, Srimati Shefali Banerjee. Some of the dramas that were played between 1960-90 are Pocket Maar (Bn), Greehodaah (Bn), Tipu Sultan (Bn), Chaand Raay – Kedar Raay(Bn), Bhog Jora (Bn), Chandragupta (Bn), Hokunir Protishode (As), Dhaatri Paana (As), Buri Baalaar Tirey (Bn), Shahjahan (Mahendra Gupta script, Bn), Bhorat Milon (Bn). The saddest part is that the only permanent stage-cum-hall, Bangiya Durgabari Jaamini Ranggalaya had to be handed to be converted into a school. No other stage could be made and dramas started to be staged only in Durga Puja and Bihu, when the school remained closed. But this couldn’t last long and the dramas companies were disbanded. A sad death of the drama companies! Only if the government wants it can still give a rebirth to those drama companies; the youths still has the potential and interest.

Golf Players of Nahorkatiya
The people of Nahorkatiya are very active in sports, mainly Soccer, Golf, Cricket, Chess, Carrom and Korean Martial Arts (Taey-Qon-Doh). The field at the Langharjan TE has recently been converted into a stadium with facilities of both outdoor and indoor games.

A view of the Langharjan Field
The people of Nahorkatiya has always been keen towards social work, sports and culture. Dattaraam Dass was a great social worker. Dr Tonkeswar Swargari, a retired military surgeon who had his clinic in the town, gave free medical service to the poor. Ven. Gyanpal, Mahathero of Namphake Buddhist Monastery is another personality in this regard. Also Sri Birendra Ch. Nandi, was always ready to suffer losses if it helped somebody else. He always kept giving free medicines to the needy people from his pharmacy, Modern Pharmacy. Sri Debendra Das represented the state football team. Sri Bishnu Kumar Dutta was a pioneer in chess in the state. Sri Phatik Gogoi, retired headmaster of Naharkatia Higher Secondary School and Dr Kalyan Baruah, principal of Naharkatiya College are respected by the people of Nahorkatiya. Sasha Kumar Handique and Pranoti Phookan are MLAs from Nahorkatia. Both of them had a great name in the field of social work here. Other people in the field of culture are Sri Madan Sarma (locally known as Beejling sir) and Sri Gadadhar Thakur.

The St. Mary's School Church
The aspects of Higher Education in the town are very poor. The Nahorkatiya College is the only degree college in the town. It offers courses in Arts and Commerce from Dibrugarh University. Recently introduced it now also offers courses under Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University. Other schools of the town are Naharkatia Higher Secondary School, St. Mary's School, New High School, R K Jitani Hindi Vidyalaya, Naharkatia Vidyamandir H.E. School and St. Xaviers High School (recently opened).

Bihu, the state festival of Asom is celebrated during the Bihu season at the Langharjan Field. Many competions are held during the process. Another big festival is the Durga Puja. It is celebrated in a big manner. The oldest puja is of the Durgabari at Shaantipaara. Now-a-days, many pujas are done.

Now talking about the conditions prevailing in the present days, Nahorkatiya is sadly going to achieve nothing more than a poor remark. The bad roads, the present communal clashes, the recent accidents at the Burhi-Dihing brought a bad name to the town. The roads are in dilapidated condition, but the active organitions of the town don’t pay an eye to it. Some organizations are upto pulling down shops to widen the roads, but even don’t pay an eye to the condition of the roads. Sadly, there had been some clashes between the bengali community and the supporters of the Hodou Axom Jaatiyataabadi Jubo Chaatro Parishad (AAJYCP) over a matter of frequents collection of donations from the businessmen community. This led to an agitation and even went up to the level of disrespect to Kala Guru Bishnu Prasad Rabha. The Sara Aasaam Bangaalee Jubo Chaatro Parishad is another such organization. The All Assam Students’ Union, Nahorkatiya office bearers are also not taking a praiseworthy part. The land where the office is house belonged to a sweet shop. It was the time of the Bangladeshi Aandolon (also famous as the Bongali Kheda Aandolon), a college gang would visit the shop everyday and have food free of cost. As one day the owner objected to it, the gang became violent and torched the shop with the people inside having no place to escape. At this the workers of the shop sprayed hot oil at the gang and one of the students died. Though a nearby household helped the owner out of the shop, the worked were burnt alive. After the incident there were no news of the sweetshop owner and his family and the land was taken by the AASU, Nahorkatiya and a Swahid Bedi was built there. There were also news about an union pressing the uniform of the Nahorkatiya College girls to only Mekhela-Chaador forcibly but the demand was lifted up following a strong opposition from the girls. The girls said that they would wear Salwar, Mekhela-Chaador and Saree upon their choices and no force put on them. If it were to happen, the girls said, the boys must also wear Dhooti strictly and no exception made to the rule. The only social organization which is taking good steps is the Rotary/Rotaract Club of Naharkatia, Rotary International:District 3240, which is one of the oldest social origination of Nahorkatiya. In the year 2008-09 a new page was added when Rtr. Saurav Bajoria was appointed as District Rotaract Representative of Rotary International District 3240.

Last but not the least, there is a genuine demand of declaration of a separate Mahakuma (Sub-divisiion) of Dibrugarh distict of Asom comprising of Nahorkatiya, Duliajan, Namrup, etc. from the students’ organization and the political groups. I too think that this must be done as the last decades’ records show no major progress of the town. There is not a single hospital in the town till today. Anyone serious must be brought to Dibrugarh or Tinsukia by hiring vans. I remember the troubles my maternals had to take when suddenly my grandma had a stroke. The 108 service was at a strike, no ambulances were available and atlast she had to be put on a van and brought to AMCH, Dibrugarh. In a similar incident a respected person, Mr. Ghose passed on the way because an ambulance couldn’t be found at time. Recently there was an accident by boat capsize which killed a dozen of students. Still today people use the dilapidated fishing-boats to cross the Burhi-Dihing. Many students have to cross it daily to attend school. Though a walk-through-bridge has been built, its is no more than another way of risking lives.

Nahorkatiya still has a life and if all the organizations take an active part in advancement of the town, it can still retain its earlier name and fame.

(All the informations put here are based on verbal discussions with the general public of Nahorkatiya)

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I liked the blog. I was born in Dibrugarh, brought up in Naharkatia till 1987. Now I stay far away from this place, but miss my boyhood days in Rly colony, in the bank of river Buri Dhihing. My father worked for Slipper factory. Can you share some recent photographs ? I am contactable at amlan.neogi@gmail.com