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Historic Bholaguri Tea Estate to host Assam’s New Swahid Kanaklata University

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Guwahati, June 22: Assam’s next university, Swahid Kanaklata Barua State University, is all set to come up adjacent to the historic Bholaguri tea estate where cultural doyen of Assam, Rup Konwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala shot his and Assam’s maiden Assamese feature film, Joymoti, in 1935.

The film recounts the sacrifice of Joymoti, an Ahom princess tortured and killed by Ahom king Borphukan for refusing to betray her husband Prince Gadapani by disclosing his whereabouts.

Kanaklata Barua, after whom the University has been named, was an Indian freedom movement activist from Gohpur, who was deeply influenced by the songs of Jyotiprasad Agarwala, a prominent Assamese poet, playwright, and filmmaker. Kanaklata laid down her life at the age of 17 years to hoist the tricolour in 1942.

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Agarwala had set up an improvised film studio called Chitraban Studio in his family-owned tea garden at Bholaguri. The tea garden, which had passed on to the state-owned Assam Tea Corporation (ATC) is reported to be not in good shape, and the original tea factory that Agarwala had converted into a make-shift film studio in 1933 is also reported to be in a dilapidated condition.

The garden bungalow, which still houses many of the equipment used by the filmmaker, is 10 kms from Gohpur.

Once a thriving garden established by Gopal Chandra Agarwala in 1921, the Bholaguri tea estate was given on lease to the Government-owned Assam Tea Corporation in 1974. Sources said while the garden originally spanned an area of 222 hectares, flood-induced siltation from the Balijan River has rendered 74 hectares uncultivable. It currently has a worker strength of 209 together with 11 staff and 7 sub-staff.

Though the Assam Tea Corporation had to lease out many of its gardens, Bholaguri was not leased out due to its historical importance.

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday visited the site and added that the entire premises of the upcoming Kanaklata University will be named “Jyoti Khsetra”. This would serve as tributes towards both freedom fighter Kanaklata Baruah and “Rupkonwar” Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.

Chief Minister Sarma while talking about deciding the site of the proposed university in Gohpur with Education Minister Dr. Ranoj Pegu and MLA Utpal Bora also held a discussion with the representatives of tea tribe organizations with an aim to protecting the interests of the tea garden workers while constructing the university.

The Chief Minister said that the proposed Kanaklata University has the potential to transform Gohpur into an educational hub in days to come. The government will ensure that the interests of tea garden workers are not affected, the Chief Minister asserted. He said that the courses in the university will be designed keeping in mind the requirement of the job market in the backdrop of Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Also Read: Assam: STF & Kamrup police jointly apprehend gang of dacoits at Singra

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