NEW DELHI: Hem Dutta, the 63-year-old social activist from Assam, was honoured with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award here on Monday. The function was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Chief Justice of India A. M. Ahmadi.
Committed to the cause of peace and non-violence in Assam, Mr. Dutta has been involved with grassroots work in building communal harmony among people living in Assam.
The Prime Minister said: “By honouring Hem Dutta, I am filled with a feeling of deep satisfaction of justice being done to the memory and legacy of the late Rajiv Gandhi. Hem Bhai, who hails from my adopted State of Assam, is a truly deserving awardee for translating the ideals of Rajiv Gandhi into practical reality.”
“Hem Bhai represents hope in today’s troubled times. With his peace missions he has sought to remove the fear psychosis from the people in Assam and helped them restart their lives through creation of employment opportunities. His message of love and brotherhood is necessary to arrest extremist activities occurring in Assam and some other parts of the country,” he said.
Mr. Dutta said: “I get no payment, promotion, pension or insurance policy for what I do. I just believe in serving the masses who have given everything to me from a place to stay, food to eat and clothes to wear. Since everything given to me is theirs, this award too is their own.” Focusing on Assam, Mr. Dutta also highlighted issues of infiltration and separatism in the State.
Ms. Sonia Gandhi urged the new generation to take inspiration from him. “It is unfortunate that even after so many years of Independence our society still has some elements who under the influence of communal forces are spreading the venom of violence and hatred instead of spreading the light of peace and non-violence. Like Hem Bhai, others too need to take inspiration from him and spread this light,” she said.