GUWAHATI, Jan 28 � Veteran Gandhian Janardan Pathak was today formally handed over the first �Amal Prabha Das Award for Social Service� for the year 2013.
The prestigious award, named after Assam�s reformer and Gandhian late Amal Prabha Das, was instituted by the State government in 2013 to honour persons for distinguished service to the society.
After conferring of the award, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) also gave a special award to Pathak for his service to the society. Pathak said that he would form a trust with the award money for the welfare of poor meritorious students of the district.
A first generation Gandhian, Pathak had dedicated his life towards the service of mankind and society in the 1950s. He arrived in Karbi Anglong (then Mikir Hills) district of Assam in 1948 and started a Seva Kendra to help the leprosy patients. The remote and backward region was completely under the grip of leprosy those days and people used to die in huge numbers due to the disease. There was also a social stigma against the leprosy patients and patients of leprosy were treated like untouchables.
�I was studying for my graduation at Wardha in Gujarat those days when I first met Gandhiji in his ashram. I told him of my wish to work for the society. Gandhiji asked me to first complete the studies and then to engage myself for serving the society,� said Pathak.
�According to Gandhiji�s advice, I came to Assam�s Mikir Hills district in 1948 and started a Seva Kendra. Senior Gandhians like BK Bhandari and Thakkar Bapa showed me the path while following the instruction of Gandhiji,� he said adding that he had also taken an anti-leprosy training at one of the Seva Kendras at Wardha while pursuing his studies.
�I still remember the day when Gandhiji was assassinated on 30 January 1948. I took an oath the next day to dedicate my life towards the service of the nation and for mankind while following the path of Gandhiji. Since then I have been working and there is no regret,� he said while remembering the past.
�I started the first Seva Kendra at Sariahjan along the Assam-Nagaland border here in 1948 August,� he said.
Lok Sabha MP from Diphu constituency Biren Singh Ingty expressed his happiness over the State government�s move to honour the veteran Gandhian who had served the people of the backward district since 1950s.
It may be mentioned here that Pathak had also started many schools in and around the area to spread the light of education among the Karbi people living in and around the area.