GUWAHATI, Sept 13 - Rising beyond the status of a mere playground, the Judge�s Field has been playing a major role in the political and socio-cultural life of the Guwahatians for quite a long time. It is witness to many socio-political upheavals of Assam too. At many public meetings held here, several decisions of far-reaching consequences were adopted, noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika told this correspondent.
Citing examples, Hazarika said the meeting to receive Lord Curzon in Guwahati was held here in 1900. Prior to that meeting, the golden jubilee celebration of the reign of Queen Victoria was also held on this ground, in which the Late Gunabhiram Borooah was conferred the Rai Bahadur title by the British Government sometime in the 1880s.
In 1936, the silver jubilee of King George VI�s rule was also celebrated on this ground. In 1937, Pandit Krishna Kanta Handiqui presided over the annual session of the Asam Sahitya Sabha on this field.
Besides, during the pre-Independence period, viceroys like Lord Linlithgow and Lord Mountbatten, addressed public meetings organised by the British Government, on this ground.
The first day of India�s Independence from the colonial rule was celebrated on this ground on August 15, 1947. The first Republic Day of the country was also celebrated on this ground on January 26, 1950.
Till the Assam agitation, all the functions held here on the occasions of Independence Day and Republic Day were crowded. Thousands of people took part in the celebrations. But during the Assam agitation days, these functions were abandoned by the masses.
In the post-Independence era, Prime Ministers of the country like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Chandra Sekhar and Rajiv Gandhi and prominent political leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee (as a leader of the then Janasangha), NT Rama Rao (as the then Chief of Minister of Andhra Pradesh), Jyoti Basu (as the then Chief Minister of West Bengal), Acharya JB Kripalani, Devi Lal (the then Deputy Prime Minister), among others, addressed public meetings on this ground.
The Judge�s Field was the venue of three editions of the All Assam Music Conference held in succession from 1954 under the leadership of Late RG Baruah. Former minister Dr Tarini Mohan Barua was the general secretary of the organising committee. Renowned classical vocalists and instrumentalists like Bare Gulam Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Damayanti Joshi and Shanta Prasad, besides local artistes like Biren Phukan, Deben Sarma and some classical artistes of the All India Radio Station Guwahati, who included violinist Minati Khaund, performed at the music conferences, said Hazarika quoting Pradip Baruah, editor of the fortnightly Prantik.
During the conference days, Guwahati used to wear a festive look and musical competitions were held during the day. The conference created a favourable condition for the practice of classical music in Guwahati and other parts of the State. After holding the conference for three consecutive years at the Judge�s Field, the organisers shifted its venue to other parts of the State, Hazarika said.
After the opening of the Nehru Stadium for sports events in 1962, the Judge�s Field became a popular venue of mass sit-in demonstrations, fasting, protest rallies and gana satyagrahas and industrial and trade exhibitions, book fairs and other public events.
At times, it became a popular notion that the Judge�s Field was the venue to kick start any political movement and the slogan � �March to Judge�s Field� � became popular. During the internal emergency clamped by the Indira Gandhi regime, the Kamrup district administration took over control of the Judges� Field from the Gauhati Town Club, said Hazarika.