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History of the Ghataks

By Late. Amal Chandra Ghatak

There lived in the village of Alukdia, a village six miles away from Chuadanga, (now in Bangladesh), then in the district of Nadia, a Brahmin by the name of Kalibar Ghatak. He was the eldest of three sons of Shreedhar Ghatak, who owned a pucca house in the village and was the owner of about 300 bighas of land in the neighbourhood. After the death of Sreedhar Ghatak, Kalibar lived in the joint family with two other brothers, both of whom died before I was born (1914). Kalibar was a diwan of the Sahibs of Nilkuthi and during his lifetime, he had two other jobs side by side, money lending and the business of jute, hukka and other commodities. He maintained one clerk (Gomosta) for looking after money lending and two for other jobs. Money was lent out to villagers at 4% interest pa. compoundable to capital every six months. The country under the British Raj was extremely impoverished, reduced to beggers. Malaria, Kalajor and wasting diseases gripped the land.The people, unable to repay the loans, sold out their lands to Kalibar at nominal prices. Kalibar thus gathered 400 bighas of land and a flourshing business in his own name. He was a rich man in the village and the village folk revered him, more out of fear than of true respect. Kalibar and his wife Ramkali Debi had only one son, Hemchandra Ghatak, who was born in the year 1875. Kalibar did not know English but could read books in Bengali and was an expert in the maintainance of accounts. He could write a decent hand and could prepare documents of Courts etc.

Kalibar educated his son Hem first in the village school, then in Chuadanga High School.After Matriculation he was educated in Krishnanagar College from where he passed B.A with Honours In English. He then joined the Law College in Ripon in Calcutta near Sealdah and obtained a degree in Law. According to his father's wish, Hemchandra started his carrer as a pleader in Chuadanga Court. At the age of 18, Hemchandra was married to Bibhabari Debi, eldest daughter of Benimadhab Sanyal of Allahabad. Benimadhab's father Saradaprasad Sanyal was the then Accountant General, Uttar Pradesh at Allahabad. He had a palatial house in Allahabad. Benimadhab's wife Probhabati was daughter of the D.L. Roy family of Krishnanagar.

Kalibar died in the year 1922 at the age of 64, after an attack of pneumonia.He left to his widow and son the following property: 1. Hundred bighas of his share of ancestral land. 2. 400 bighas of his own expansion, the newly built two storied house, dighis, huge mango and jackfruit orchards etc. After the death of Kalibar, the children of the his two brothers expressed their unwillingness to stay in the joint family and as such 200 hundred bighas of land was given out to them by mutual partition. The second brother of Kalibar, named Panchanon, had two sons, Haricharan and Harilal. Hemchandra educated those two brothers. Haricharan, when reading in Law collage, died of a sore which developed as a pimple in his arm. Harilal died of tuberculosis, leaving a widow and without any issues. Hemchandra, who was married at 18, left three daughters and six sons in this order: Renu, Susoma (Susu), Bimal, Nirmal, Amal, Parimal, Nanigopal(Buro), Monorani ( Mana) and Prangopal (Tantu). The first two daughters of Hemchandra were married before I was born. Kalibar took entire charge of their marriages including expenditure and other details.

In 1902 Hemchandra shifted to Darbhanga where a Judge Court had just started, to practice Law. Kalibor purchased a house for his son in the Bengalitola at a cost of Rs. 1500/- only. The house was a Khapra roof, of bunglow type over 9.27 kathas, in an excellent locality in the heart of the township of Laheriasarai.This was the house where we were born, and educated in the primary and secondary standards.The third brother of Kalibor died long before the death of Kalibor,leaving a widow and two sons named Ananta and Shanti. Ananta had a son named Nadu (Jyotirmoy) and Shanti had three sons and two daughters. We will come to their story after finishing the main stream.

After the death of Kalibor in 1922, Ramkali continued the business of her husband with the help of Gomostas and Hemchandra practiced Law at Darbhanga in the court of the District Judge. Every year during the Pujas Hemchandra used to go to Desh to look after the Estate. He collected dues from the various sources, paid the government taxes, land revenues and helped his mother in all matters of family income, court cases etc. It was a pleasure for us to go to the village and enjoy life, and Ramkali gave her personal care to our needs and necessities.

In 1923, Renu, Hemchandra's eldest daughter, died of plague at Laheriasarai. Seven days later Bhibhabari, our mother followed her. The responsibilities of the entire family rested on him and on his mother. In 1938 Ramkali Debi passed away at Alukdia and Bimal, the eldest son of Hemchandra took pains to cremate her body at the shores of Ganga at Nabadwip according to her desire.

I passed Matriculation examination from North Brook School (Govt. Jila School) in the year 1930 and joined the ISC. classes in the Government College at Mujjafarpur. The position of the sons and daughters of Hemchandra was as follows:

  1. Renu : died in the year 1923, leaving behind two daughters, Kalyani(Thupi) and Bhawani.
  2. Sushoma(Susu) two daughters, Sunila and Sunita(Su).
  3. Bimal : passed from Darbhanga Medical School, married in 1930, died 1964
  4. Nirmal: Studying in Medical School.
  5. Amal : Studying in Mujjafarpur College.
  6. Pari, BUro, Mana, Tantu, reading under Matrics.
In 1935/36, The Muslim League Government of Bengal, headed by Fajlul Haque promulgated the "Reen Salisi" BOard,in all villages. Alukdia, though entirely a Hindu village, was surrounded by Muslim villagers and most of the villegers had taken loans from the Ghataks.By the order, all loan cases were reffered to this board, and no case could be sent to the court. The debtors appealed to the board to stop interest and pay dues to the money lenders in easy installments over twenty years.The installments were never paid in time, resulting in total stoppage of moneylending business and loss of huge sums of money due to unpaid capital and interest.With the introduction of this board, the business collapsed.

The trade in laka, jute and paddy continued for sometime, and due to unfair means adopted by the Gomostas, the business collapsed.It was not possible for Hemchandra to look after both sides, in two different places and at the same time. When Ramkali died in 1938, her total business income rested on land revenues only and collection of paddy could be made with a strong hand. By 1938, Bimal had a hold on the property at Alukdia. As a doctor , he had a flourishing practice in the village. But Renu, his wife and little children did not like to stay in the village on account of malaria, lack of facilities for schooling the children and the people that had turned the whole village into a land of destitutes.In 1943, Bimal left the village and shifted to Darbhanga to start private practice. To start with, he joined as a doctor of the district board of Darbhanga and gave it up when his practice took sizeable income.

Tantu(Prangopal), was put in charge of the village properties where he turned to a devil and a drunkard, wasting away the remainder of the property left by our ancestors.

In 1930, Bimal married Pusporani, nicnamed Ranu.He had four daughters and two sons. The first daughter died before the second daughter was born.They were: Buri, Anju, Benu, Buddha and Goutam.

Nirmal married in 1940. His wife was Komolata Chatterjee, of Lahore. Nirmal was then a doctor and a medical representative of Raptakos Brett in Lahore. He joined the army in 1943.He was in the Burma front and after the second world war, he was released from the army. He joined the Lake Medical College and passed MBBS and joined the army again as a captain in Short Service Commission. He lost his health due to excess while in military service and was declared medically unfit in 1958. He was divorced by his wife in 1952, who married another person of her choice. He had a son who left for West Germany where he settled ultimately. His daughter Jayasree was also in abroad.

West Bengal was seperated from East Bengal in 1947. East Bengal became a part of pakistan and the entire land and properties of the Ghataks went into Pakistan. Nirmal tried his level best and was successful in getting mutual exchange with one Akbar Ali Biswas of village sorhati, Madanpur,in Nadia. Giving up the entire property of Alukdia, we secured the property in Madanpur and the documents ware duly registered at Ranaghat.

I was born on 19th. April, 1914. As I have told before, my father Hemchandra and mother Bibhabori Debi were then settled in Darbhanga. Our house at Laheriasarai was a spacious one. My father was very much interested in our studies. A private tutor named Jibananda Bhattacharya used to stay in our house taught all our brothers and sisters till we passed class seven of Hey COck School. Pandit Ganga Nath Jha was my private tutor for sanskrit only. In the year 1932,I passed ISC. examination with Physics, Chemistry and Maths with distinction.

The year 1932 to 1938 were years of monitary depression. Though I passed the ISC exam with credit, I was thinking of earning and to be independent of my father. One day I saw in the Statesman, an advertisement for appointment of 36 apprentices in the Railway workshop of East Indian Railway in Jamalpore. I applied for the same, and appeared in an open competetive examination , got the interview and was declared selected against the Beher Government quota. Out of 36 candidates selected, 20 were Anglo Indians and 16 from Beher. The professors of engineering subjects were British educationists.I passed all the examinations in theories from Jamalpore and practicals from Liluah.I completed my studies and trainings in 1937 and was appointed in Loco running shed at Moradabad as a Technical Assistant to Loko foreman. My opening salary was Rs. 80 per month. I started my life like a rich man with Rs. 80.

In the year 1945, I married Sadhana, D/o. Nandalal Moitra of Baranagar. My daughter Alaka was born at Baranagar on 13.4.46. I started my happy married life at Kusunda. My son Satyen was born at Baranagar on 15.4.48. I retired from Rly.Service on 1st. of June, 1972 and am leading a peaceful life in Vidyasagar Niketan from 2.7.1972.

My next two brothers are Porimol(Pari) and Buro. Parimol was also a railway apprentice and joined the Railway service. He had an heart attack in Nov' 77 and died, leaving behind his wife and two daughters and two sons.

Nanigopal(Buro) was a Medical Officer of the Behar Government service. He had to spend the most of his life in the different places of Behar with his wife and four daughters.

Monorani(Mana) was married to the Majumdar family of Baripoda and had two sons.

Tantu (Prangopal) lived in Madanpur and died in the year 1972 of liver abcess due to excessive drinking habits. he left behind, his wife and eight children.

Out of six brothers and three sisters two brothers Amal and Buro and sister Mana are still alive. The future generation will be writing the final story regarding them.

Alaka's Notes on "History of the Ghataks"

"Hello" to all my near and dear ones of the Ghatak family. I am Alaka, daughter of Sri Amalchandra Ghatak, the third son of Sri Hemchandra Ghatak. This is a very short sketch of the Ghatak family written by my father, during his illness. He has forgotton to write the name of Sri. Ramram Ghatak, father of Sri. Sreedhar Ghatak and of Smt. Joykali Ghatak, sister of Sri Kalibar Ghatak.So, Kalibar, wife Ramkali and sister Joykali-- we can say `Joyjoy-kar of the Godess Kali'. My father had written a lot to pass his time and the name of his note-book was, `Kheyal Khata'. I have got a beautiful statement regarding the family tree of the Ghataks and those who are interested in it, can collect it from me.

My father died on 5th. June, 1991, following a severe heart attack. He was 78, completed all his daily duties, took his dinner and went to bed to find that the Holy Mother had fixed a better room and a comfortable bed for a peaceful sleep for him. It is better to remember the brighter side of a man who had to suffer a lot for doing goods to others.

My father was very fond of Sanskrit and his writings show the vast amount of knowledge and experience gathered throughout his life.I came to know of them only after his death and I am trying to preserve them properly.

I don't know how to convey my regards to the departed Soul. As far as I look back, I see a little girl, sitting by her father and reading the very first teachings of the Upanisadas------ `Satyam Bada, Dharmang Chara, Matridebo Bhabo, Pritidebo Bhabo,..... Idam Anusasanam, Idam Achoritabyam', i,e--- Satya balo, Dharmapothe cholo, Mata o Pita tomar devota houn, aeguli Aanusasan, aeguli Adesh. I don't know how far I am following these instructions but I am trying to.

May his Soul rest in Peace with all the other Ancestors, whose Blessings have made

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