Eminent Assamese dramatist, litterateur and social activist Ratna Ojha died at his Guwahati residence on Tuesday due to old age-related ailments, family sources said. He was 88.
The cultural doyen of Assam was actively involved in the ongoing protests in the state against the amended Citizenship Act and had addressed rallies even three days before his death, sources said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal mourned Ojha’s demise, tweeting, “Saddened to learn about the demise of eminent dramatist, litterateur and social activist Ratna Ojha. “With his death, Assam loses a great personality, whose contribution towards our socio-cultural heritage will be forever remembered. My heartfelt condolences.” His last rites would be performed with state honours, government sources said.
Offered my last respects to eminent litterateur, dramatist and social activist Ratna Ojah at his residence in Guwahati.
His versatile range of works have enriched the Assamese society and will be remembered forever. pic.twitter.com/4uEu5F9LS3
— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) December 31, 2019
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) have condoled Ojha’s death. Recipient of the prestigious Natyasurya Award in 2005 for his contributions to theatre, Ojha had introduced street plays in Assam in 1971 with his skit ‘Kokaideo’ to revive the theatre movement in the state that was fading with the death of his mentor Phani Sarma, sources said.
Ojha had said he and his associates had decided to hit the streets to save the “drowning boat of theatre” instead of waiting for government facilities of affordable halls to enact plays. The playwright’s theatre troupe ‘Gobhor Natyagosthi’ had produced the acclaimed trilogy — ‘Gobhor’, ‘Urbor’ and ‘Kobor’ — highlighting various issues afflicting the society.
Ojha had also introduced ‘cartoon theatre’ in the Northeast. The former vice-chairman of the state cultural centre Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra had produced and directed documentary film ‘Naam-ghar’..