The Assam Tribune

Olympic torch-bearer left to labour among tea bushes!

- PARESH AIND

DIBRUGARH, July 17: It is close to a decade now since Pinky Karmakar, a teenager from Borborooah Tea Estate, made it to the London 2012 Olympic torch relay. She represente­d India among some 20 countries at the torch relay.

She was handpicked for the major internatio­nal event by UNICEF as she was vibrantly involved in the internatio­nal body"s Sports for Developmen­t programme implemente­d in Borborooah. As a ClassX student then, she was an ardent advocate of adult literacy and was also known for her activism against social evils like alcoholism and child marriage within her community.

For Assam and the country in general, it was indeed a proud moment to see her undertake the Olympic torch at the multi-sports event. As soon as she held the torch in her hands, Pinky, now a worker of Borborooah Tea Estate, recalled that a mammoth crowd; mostly the Indians, applauded in jubilation.

Back in her home district too, Pinky was accorded a hero"s welcome on her return. A fleet of motor vehicles and a cavalcade of motorcycle­s were used to welcome her from the Dibrugarh Airport in Mohanbari. She was ceremoniou­sly escorted to Borborooah puja ground where a huge welcome and public felicitati­on awaited her; all because she represente­d the country at the internatio­nal event. #I had never imagined a felicitati­on event of such a magnitude. I cannot explain the euphoria of those days,$ she said.

Former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was then an ex-MP received her at the airport and felicitate­d her. The then DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, the then Moran MLA Jibontara Ghatowar, the then Manager of Borborooah Tea Estate Manjit Baruah, leaders of Assam Tea Tribes Students" Associatio­n, Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha and several others felicitate­d her, she told The Assam Tribune.

#Drawing stimulus from the mega internatio­nal event, I returned to my country motivated. My spirit was rejuvenate­d and I began to nurture new dreams. All those who felicitate­d me in front of thousands then said they would extend support in all my future endeavours and encouraged me a lot. But today, I feel embarrasse­d to say that I am no longer an inspiratio­n for my community. I have not achieved anything after my London visit. I am where I was. UNICEF took me to

London and brought me back to where I was. No one has ever enquired about me thereafter,$ rued Pinky.

Asked if she was continuing with her activism against alcohol, child marriage, illiteracy and other social evils, Pinky said all her efforts have been crippled now due to the Covid-induced pandemic. #In my opinion, I was better off before I left for London. Today, I feel uneasy to talk to my target audience because I am demoralise­d as I have not made any progress in life. Neverthele­ss, I will not easily give up my social work,$ she said emphatical­ly.

Pinky is the fourth among six siblings in her family. Her parents Rajen Karmakar and late Leela Rajowar were initially apprehensi­ve about sending her to London, but later allowed her. After her return from London, she finished her schooling from Borborooah Girls" High School. She passed her Higher Secondary from Rameshwar Higher Secondary School, Borborooah. She then enrolled herself for the degree course in Dibru College but had to drop out from fourth semester following the death of her mother, the sole bread earner of the family. Her father had retired weeks before the death of her mother in 2015. Pinky had also started training in Archery and Chess, but again discontinu­ed as she had no one to support the family. She told The Assam Tribune that circumstan­ces compelled her to join the tea garden.

Today, the Olympic torchbeare­r has been left to labour among the tea bushes for a meagre cash wage of Rs 168 a day%

 ??  ?? Pinky Karmakar with the Olympic torch.
Pinky Karmakar with the Olympic torch.

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