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Mathura Mohan Baruah
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A pioneer English Journalists of Assam, who was also a patriot to his fingertips for whom no cause was dearer than that of spiritual and material upliftment of Assam and Assamese. Munin Borkotoki in 'The Assam Tribune' - 7th June, 1972

Mathura Mohn Baruah was born to the famous Raxendra Baruah family of Guwahati which originally belongs to Janji area of Sivasagar. In his early life talented Baruah went to Mumbai to become a doctor. His education was sponsored one of his uncle, Radhika Chandra Baruah, who a rich business and took Christanity.

Unfortunately Mathura Mohan Baruah couldn't complete his education in Mumbai due to severe illness and in fact lost one of his leg. For rest of his life he spent as lame. Though he couldn't complete his medical education, he was very good in English literature and got attracted to Journalism. He worked as editor in Mumbai and Hyderabad in two newspapers named 'Indian Spectator' and 'Champion'. During his Hyderabad stay, he got introduced to the Sarojini Naidu family. He became close to Naidu's father Aghor Nath Chattopadhyay. In fact he styed with the family in Hyderabad and the family also medicate his lameness. He also teached thec hildren in the family including Sarojini Naidu.

Mathura Mohan Baruah

In late 1900,Mathura Mohan Baruah returned back to Assam. He became editor of the weekly Assamese-English newspaper 'Axaam Bonti' in 1901 in Tezpur. Padmanath Gohain Baruah was the founder of the newspaper. But due to conflict of ideas with the newspaper manegement, Baruah left it and shifted to Guwahati. He rented a press 'Victoria press' in 1902. From this press he published an English weekly 'The Advocate of Assam'. The edition of the weekly first published in October 1903. The eight page weekly was sold at two anas, yearly subscription was 5 Rupees. Baruah's determination is really commendable as he managed to start this weekly only two other employees. Once the newspaper was published four days later than the scheduled date as one of the employees left the job.

Despite many obstacles the weekly survived for seven years and closed in 1910. During this span, the weekly attracted attention of intellectual class and British Government. Baruah did extreme hard work to run the 'The Advocate of Assam' independently and bring many patriotic elements to it. According to famous Assamese critic, "Although the weekly did not last long, yet it served as a powerful weapon for expressing public opinion. It took up the cause of Rayats and strongly denounced the exisitng land laws of Assam, as they denied the cultivators permanant rights over lands. The weekly therefore drew the attention drew the attention of the government and became a victim of its repressive policy."

Mathura Mohan Baruah bravely ran the Advocate raising issues from education system of Assam to business and various government policies. But due to his laborous efforts, his health conditions became worse. After 'The Advocate of Assam', Baruah published "Assam Chronicle" under the supervision of Krishna Chandra Baruah. But it also didn't last long.

Poverty and illness made Baruah's life tough in his last days. During the poor days, intellectual calss of Assam helped him, like the president of Assam association Prabhat Chandra baruah, Social activist Manik Chandra Baruah, his own brother Keshav Baruah and also commissioner Gordon. He put his press on rent to earn something.

Broken completely both in wealth and health, this pioneer journalists took his last breathe in 7th June, 1919. Unfortunately, this unsung patriotic and talented journalist is not remembered well today, but we can't ignore his contribution to the Assamese society.

Reference : Kumudeshwar Hazarika's article published in Prantik.

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