Remembering D. D Thakur

Ghansham Singh
Crops were harvested, food grains were stored, fodder collected, trees and bushes had shed their leaves and intense cold waves were flowing around beautiful snow clad mountains of Sarvadhar and Hansraj Mountains when Devi Das Thakur was born in village Batroo of Tehsil Banihal District Ramban, on 9th of December 1929.Village Batroo is located along Madhumati River which originates from two hills of Pogal and Paristan and confluences at Ukhral being the central place of the area which is around 175 KM from Jammu and 117 KM from Srinagar capital cities.
D.D Thakur a noble son of the soil hailing from a region with snow clad mountains, green forests and fresh spring waters had an eventful, shining joyful and a colorful journey in his long 50 year career starting from Batroo  upto Guwahati Raj Bhawan as Governor of Assam & Arunachal Pradesh. The colorful and illustrious journey of his career was full of hard work and struggle, ups and downs and trials and tribulations. He had great affection for the people as well as beautiful valleys of Paristan Pogal and Guglidhaar and will always be remembered for his socio-economic amelioration works for the benefit of the people. He did his primary level schooling at Batroo, 8th in Middle School Banihal, Matric from High School at Udhampur, Hr. Secondary (2nd Year) from  Pratap College, Srinagar and Graduation from Amarsingh College Srinagar in 1950. At the time of partition and the tribal invasion of the 1947, he was a student of 2nd year in Pratap College Srinagar and trekked about 120 Km distance by foot to reach to village Batroo. Graduated in Economics with a diploma in Public Administration, he became the first and only graduate in Pogal Paristan at that time in the year 1950. His father, Late Moti Ram Thakur was running a small shop in the village Batroo and was also a prominent Panch of the area. He was known for his integrity, impartiality and honesty in deciding the day to day local disputes of the people. He would have never thought that one day his son will reach to the highest constitutional position in the State and his grandson will head the highest seat of justice in the country.  Although, D.D Thakur was born and grew up in a hilly backward and remote area totally unconnected with roads and with no electricity and without proper educational facilities, he was fully imbibed with a spirit of constitutionalism, governance, liberalism, democracy and Rule of law.  He was appointed as a  headmaster in Government High School, Pogal in 1951. During this period, he came in contact with an Advocate namely, Shadi Lal Kotwal in Ramban, who persuaded him to take up higher education in the field of law. Though his father was economically not in a position to send his son for higher studies outside the state, but on his insistence, he arranged his studies outside the state and sent him to Lucknow in 1952, where he completed his Bachelor of Law degree in 1954 from Lucknow University. Thereafter, he started his practice in  law in Ramban and became junior of one Mr. Janardhan Taing at Ramban. After 04 years of his practice in Ramban, he shifted to Jammu in 1959 and started practicing in the High Court of J&K at Jammu. In March 1973, he was elevated as a judge of the J&K High Court. In February 1975, he was inducted as the  State Cabinet Minister after resigning from the post of High Court Judge. He remained Minister for Finance, Planning, Law, Food & Civil Supplies and Transport during 1975 to 1982. As a Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Transport he tried to bring reform and launch a crusade against “Permit Raj and Dealer Raj” Thereafter, after demitting his office as a Cabinet Minister,  he moved to Delhi and started his practice in Supreme Court as a senior advocate. He also served as Deputy Chief Minister of J&K from 1984 to 1986.  He again started practice in the Supreme Court. In April 1990, he was appointed as Governor of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Despite remaining outside his native area most of the time of his life,  he continued to remain associated with the local people of his area because of his deep affection with Pogal Paristan. His memories of childhood at Alinbass, Goolidhar, Sarvadhar and Sargali would always bring him joy and he would visit these places to refresh his past memories of childhood. He was not only an eminent constitutional jurist of the country, but also an able administrator, decision maker, economist, planner, philosopher, statesmen, poet and intellectual. His contributions in different capacities in his long 50 year career as advocate, justice, minister and governor are remarkable and unforgettable. He had ability to rise against challenges of life and career. He could connect with the people especially the poor and downtrodden and had a lot of compassion for them. During 1990, when he was Governor of Assam and the state was hit by insurgency by ULFA and maintenance of law and order was a tough and challenging job particularly after 27.11.1990, when President Rule was imposed in Assam. In a brief period of 10 months from April 1990 to February 1991, he tried to improve the law and order situation by ensuring synergy between civil and police administration viz-a-viz. military. He also provided security to the tea cultivators and in order to redress the grievances of the people, he sent teams of officers at regular intervals in the districts by special planes. As a Chairman of Northeast Council, he visited headquarters of all member states and prepared comprehensive developmental plans after consulting the public representatives and general intelligentsia for balanced regional development. Initially, he was aspiring for a gazetted post or a Naib Tehsildar, but which did not materialize as destiny had stored something different for him. It has been rightly said that denial of an opportunity to a person at some stage of his life prepares him to stride against challenging circumstances of life which ultimately promotes rise of a person to higher position. As a constitutional jurist, he was consulted on some important constitutional matters by the Government of India. According to him hardwork, strong determination coupled with commitment and positive line of action are the surest means of climbing even to the difficult ladders of success in life. He also believed that some of the golden moments in the life of an individual are those moments when a person works selflessly for betterment of humanity and also participates in the happiness and sorrows of others. He also exhorted the people and students to work hard and maintain peace and brotherhood among each other.
The contributions made by D.D Thakur and the difficult circumstances in which he rose to the important positions in life will continue to be a source of inspiration, confidence and happiness for us and his contributions will be remembered for generations together.
(The author is a KAS officer).
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