Amar Krishna Mama: A Story of Grit, and Inspiration:
Popularly known as Krishna Mama (uncle) from his student days for his mature disposition and independent mindset, he witnessed the horrors of the colonial rule in Assam, which allowed him to develop a critical attitude against colonial rule.
One such horror was the widespread addiction to opium in Assamese society.
Introduced to Assam by sepoys of the East India Company during the late 18th and 19th century in a bid to popularise poppy cultivation in the region, it was only going to be a matter of time before opium addiction would devastate Assamese society.
Opium was also a major instrument of British imperialism. By the mid 19th century, the local intellectual class began taking on this menace, but it was only around the early 20th century, and particularly during the Non-Cooperation Movement when the fight began to pick up.
The fight against opium addiction was a cause close to Sharma’s heart. Working alongside freedom fighters and Assamese politicians Kuladhar Chaliha and Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri, Sharma worked tirelessly to gather facts related to the use of opium in the region.
“No opium eater will die for (the) want of opium. If any of them die, it will be due to old age. I calculate that percentage of deaths among the addicts are highest during the last five years. In the year of prohibition, we can’t put a stop to those whose days are numbered, but to save a nation from a ruinous habit, no efforts should be spared. The only way is total prohibition,” he said.
Until the very end, Sharma fought for the prohibition of opium and eventually won.
His battle against ‘untouchability’ meanwhile picked up following the Civil Disobedience Movement of the 1930s, when Gandhi took it up in a major way.
Krishna Mama explained the purpose of the ‘Day’ and then put a garland around the gun in possession of American military personnel. The soldiers were bewildered. Mama then addressed the soldiers in English: ‘Please tell your people that this is the type of Independence we are enjoying’. Meanwhile, an officer on duty came forward and arrested him.
However, repeated arrests took a toll on his health, and he sadly passed away just a few months short of Independence in 1947.
Although in recent years, attempts have been made to revive his legacy, his contributions remain largely forgotten. It’s time to change that. At MMB, we constantly try to make sure that our history is not forgotten, and this article is an attempt on that. Please share with everyone you know, and spread the news of truth and passion.