By: Anjan Baskota
Hari Prasad Mishra; an unsung hero of the freedom movement of India was born on October 22, 1925, to the late Gouri Kanta Mishra and Leelawati Mishra at Major Aati Nepali Gaon (Presently known as Samar Dalani) of undivided Darrang district. Mishra did his schooling at Samar Dalani Govt. Junior Basic School. He completed his primary stage of schooling at the age of 17 in 1941. As he passed the LP standard, the breathless atmosphere of the Quit India movement began to start. Leaving aside his education, Hari Prasad was also attracted to the nationwide movement as a young boy having young and hot blood.
The influence of the historic movement was greatly felt in Assam also like in other parts of the nation. The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee in association with district and regional committees initiated various schemes to make people aware of the national movement. Many strategies for recruitment of membership drives were conducted. Further, the state leaders briefed and shared the aims, objectives, and decisions of the central team with district leaders. In addition, party volunteers were engaged to spread the messages among the mass people. Hari Prasad Mishra took the primary membership of the Congress party. Jyoti Prasad Agarwala played a pivotal role during the Quit India movement. He composed many patriotic songs to make people aware and to arouse a sense of patriotism among the common people. Agarwala arranged training camps to recruit volunteers for the party as well as for the death squad. Hari Prasad, with the influence of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, had joined the Mritu Bahini (the Death Squad). Hari Prasad had undergone the training of Congress volunteers when Hem Chandra Baruah and Omeo Kumar Das were president and secretary of APCC and Jyoti Prasad Agarwala was GOC of the Death Squad. Hari Prasad along with other six youth from his native village underwent training held at Bhaganbari Nepali Gaon with Baparam Gogoi Barua; GOC of Death Squad and Convener of Tezpur district Congress Committee. He was appointed as ‘Nayak’ after the training. In this regard, Baparam Gogoi Barua writes, ‘Shri Mishra after passing the proper training at that training camp was appointed by me as Nayak of a group of trained volunteers with some most confidential and urgent duties on which the consolidated reports needed by the then Congress High command by every day and night during the period of our Independence struggle up to the year 1947, in connection with our most dangerous program of ‘Thane Dakhal’ and ‘the flag hoisting on the court building of the Tezpur Court’ (Baparam Gogoi Baruah; G.O.C of Congress Seva Dal, Tezpur, dated July 9, 1976, Sootea).
The Congress party at the local level gave Hari Prasad Mishra the duty of a spy. He also served as an underground worker of the party. His intimate companions in the village were Taranath Sarma and Nidhi Prasad Sarma. He worked for maintaining peace and harmony at the village level. Mishra maintained a cordial relationship with Sootea and Jamuguri Committee too. Gahan Chandra Goswami, Bijoy Chandra Bhagawati, and Chandra Kanta Bhuyan were companions of that time. Bijoy Chandra Bhagawati had written, ‘He participated in the 1942 Quit India Movement. He went underground and worked for the movement for more than six months. He absconded from October 1942 to April 1943’ (Bijoy Chandra Bhagawati, dated July 13, 1984, Tezpur, Assam).
As a part of the agenda taken by the Congress committee, it was decided to hoist the tricolour in all the government institutions including government offices, court buildings, and police stations simultaneously on September 20, 1942. However, the Sootea committee had decided to hoist the tricolour before the scheduled date, and accordingly, the tricolour was hoisted at Sootea Police Station on August 20, 1942. It is said that Sootea PS was the first and only place in India where the tricolour was hoisted for the first time, lowering the Union Jack. Mahendra Barkataky, Boloram Bormudoi, Chandra Bora, Biren Borkataky, and other freedom fighters took part in this historic event. Later on, the British administration arrested Mahendra Borkataky, Boloram Bormudoi, Dimbeswar Hazarika, Buleswar Hazarika, Biman Bora, Kula Hazarika, Deben Borkataky, etc. leaders terming the flag hoisting as illegal on August 22, 1942.
Like other parts of the country, the Congress workers of Gohpur, Sootea and Dhekiajuli assembled and marched towards respective police stations to hoist the tricolour on September 20, 1942. The British administration opened fire on the protesters, leading to two deaths of Kanaklata Baruah and Mukunda Kakaty of Gohpur and 13 others at Dhekiajuli police station. But the tricolour was hoisted peacefully at Sootea PS on that historic day. The then Section commander of Sootea Death Squad Golak Saikia unfurled the tricolour on that day, lowering the Union Jack. Hari Prasad Mishra, the eyewitness of the rare but historical movement is still alive.
After the mass movement of 1942, Hari Prasad continued to serve the party as a primary worker at the village level besides social service. He played a distinguishing role in the establishment of many socio-economic and educational institutions in the greater Nagsankar area. They include Nagsankar High School, Lakhangarh Kirtan Sangha (presently known as Lakhangarh Samar Dalani Gaon Unnayan Committee), Samar Dalani ME School, Sri Sri Laxmi Narayan Temple, Bapuji Pustakalay (presently known as Taranath Sarma Smriti Pustakalay), Nagsankar Samabai Samitte, Dakhin Nagsankar HS etc.
After the much-desired freedom, Mishra came in close contact with the All Assam Freedom Fighters’ Association. He became the president of the Sonitpur district committee of the Freedom Fighters’ Association. The unsung hero of the freedom movement was honoured with a political sufferer pension by the state government in 1994. The then president of India Pranab Mukharjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan felicitated the senior freedom hero on August 9, 2016, along with other freedom heroes of the national movement. The then vice president of India Dr. Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then Defence minister Rajnath Singh also graced the felicitation program.
Hari Prasad Mishra who is just three years away from attaining his century as a human being has been leading a normal and happy life along with his family members at his Samar Dalaani residence. Wish him a happy and healthy life ahead and all the greetings of 76th Independence Day.