Confusion about the proper cremation site for former CM Tarun Gogoi of Assam
A day after his passing on Monday due to post-Covid-19 complications, a decision has yet to be made on where the veteran congressional leader and former prime minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, will be cremated.
The 84-year-old man had passed away on Monday night at Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) and a decision was made that the cremation would take place in Guwahati on Thursday.
Assam’s congressional unit has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state to allocate a plot of land within the city for cremation, but the latter has yet to make any decision on the matter.
“We are seeing a plot in Amingaon (on the north bank of Brahmaputra on the outskirts of Guwahati) where we can perform the last rites on Thursday morning,” Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Tuesday.
Guwahati has two public cremation grounds, Bhootnath and Navagraha, but Congress had requested two other locations within the city where cremation could take place and a monument could be established.
“We had a discussion about this with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. But the areas sought by Congress are included in the wetlands and cannot be allocated for other purposes under the law. Sonapur and Amingaon (both on the outskirts of Guwahati) would be more suitable, ”said Sarma.
“We had asked the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration to look for suitable plots within Guwahati, if possible. But they have not been able to find any such place where cremation can take place. I hope that Congress understands this, ”he added.
Sarma mentioned that the Gogoi family has not requested a specific place in Guwahati for cremation and the demand for a separate area for the last rites and the construction of a monument came from the state unit of Congress.
There were requests from residents in Titabar, the assembly constituency in the Jorhat district that Gogoi represented, to perform the last rites there. But Gogoi’s family has told the state government that they want the cremation to take place in Guwahati.
Despite repeated attempts, the top leaders of the Assam Congress were unavailable for comment as they are busy with functions associated with the latest Gogoi tribute.
“We are prepared to perform the last rites on Thursday. Any decision about where it will be made will be made by the state government, ”said Biswajit Pegu, deputy commissioner of Kamrup (Metropolitan).
Guwahati does not have a specific memorial for former chief ministers and other dignitaries. A monument to Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika, one of Assam’s most important cultural icons, built on land donated by the University of Gauhati, is the only place of its kind in the city.
The assembly elections will be held in Assam in March-April next year and Gogoi’s death and cremation could become a political tug of war between the opposition Congress and the ruling BJP.
Early Tuesday, Gogoi’s body was transferred from GMCH to his official residence. From there he was taken to the secretary of state and the central office of the Assam Congress. In the afternoon, he moved to Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, where the public will be able to pay tribute on Wednesday.