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As The Shillong Times celebrates its coveted Platinum Jubilee, it’s time to look back at the sepia pages of history to place on record our gratitude to some colleagues who are no more in this world,
and whose relentless struggle, sheer dedication and unflinching commitment to the cause, have made the Daily what it is today. We are honoured to fondly recall the sterling contributions made
by many a journalist and non-journalist for manfully carrying on the baton all these 75 years. We would like to pay homage to those who are not here to see this day.
Late S B Chaudhuri
Founder Editor: 1945-1961
Those were trying and difficult days when Sudhindra Bhushan Chaudhuri decided to launch an English weekly – The Shillong Times. It was the pre-Independence era and the tabloid saw the transition of India under the British to a free India.
But if there is one outstanding feature about The Shillong Times under its founder editor, it is that the paper remained true to its commitment to its readers and never buckled under pressure – no matter what the cost.
The Shillong Times had carried a news-item on how a chief engineer of the Public Works Department of Assam had tendered his resignation for his having been severely castigated by the then PWD minister, Moinul Haq Choudhury.
Incensed by the ‘impunity,” of the paper, the minister slapped a defamation suit against The Shillong Times. Standing firm by its story,
The Shillong Times commissioned no less a lawyer than Siddhartha Shankar Ray as its counsel and all newspapers of the then undivided Assam faithfully and extensively covered the proceedings of the case, perhaps sensing that it would become a precedent.
It was about at that time that the trouble which history has chosen to call the Language Disturbances broke out and feelers were sent to S B Chaudhuri to work out a compromise since both, the minister and he belonged to the same community and the internecine fighting would be a sign of weakness to the other community.
The founder editor in true journalistic spirit, however, reposed forthright asserting he was a journalist, and did not belong to any particular community.
Seeing his determination to go through with the case, his opponents tried the personal approach and asked Chaudhuri’s mother to try and prevail upon her son to withdraw the case.
Her son’s opponents obviously used emotional pressure upon her to convince Chaudhuri and one night when he returned from the Press, his mother called upon him not to fight the case any further. According to his own account, Chaudhuri spent a sleepless night debating whether he should stick by ethics or bow down to filial pressures. Ultimately the latter won and he abided by his mother’s wishes, and did not proceed further with the case.
Pained by this turn of
events and having to compromise on what he believed was right, he felt he had no right to carry on a paper if he did not have the courage of conviction to stand his ground even at the cost of violating maternal obedience. He sold the Press
to PN Chaudhuri handed over the editorial reins to him
and moved to Calcutta.
In our Golden Jubilee year, we salute both the pioneering effort and the man himself
Late P N Chaudhuri
When Parsva Nath Chaudhuri took over The Shillong Times from S B Chaudhuri, the paper had already earned the ire of the then Assam PWD Minister, Mr Moinul Haq Chaudhury.
Not only had the founder editor carried a story on how the minister had compelled a chief engineer to resign for no fault of his own, the paper had stood up staunchly to defend its stand in a defamation suit filed against it by the minister.
Not content, it would appear with the selling of the Press and the newspaper by its founder editor, further pressure was put upon the paper by both, the Assam Government and the Centre.
Government advertisements – then and even now a mainstay of any newspaper’s revenue – were either stopped completely or reduced to an insignificant number and The Shillong Times found itself in dire straits.
P N Chaudhuri who was a true Gandhian, however, never looked upon The ShiIlong Times as a business but rather as a calling and a service to the community.
A staunch prohibitionist, he made it a policy not to accept liquor advertisements for publication in The ShiIlong Times.
His son and former editor of The Shillong Times,
Manas Chaudhuri recalls how a substantial amount of revenue was turned down from an advertising agency which had booked a series of advertisements for a liquor company despite the fact that the paper was in an acute financial bind at the time.
His ideology paid rich dividends in that, despite the fact that there were all kinds of pressure applied upon the newspaper, then still a weekly, the readership remained firmly behind The Shillong Times.
Time and again well-wishers and readers would reaffirm their faith and loyalties to the weekly that had highlighted their woes and had sought to get their grievances redressed.
It was during the stewardship of P N Chaudhuri that the Hill State Movement, the harbinger to the carving out of Meghalaya from the Greater Assam, gathered momentum and despite being a Congress-man, he gave generous support to it through The Shillong Times.
Capt Williamson A Sangma who was once The ShiIlong Times’ agent in Tura later went on to become the first Chief Minister of the State of Meghalaya when it came into being on January 21, 1972.
Parsva Nath Chaudhuri was among the members of the first elected legislative assembly of the fledgling state.
Having been elected a member of the first Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Chaudhuri could not devote as much time as he would have liked to the paper and it was at this time that his youngest son,
Manas Chaudhuri – already initiated into the field of journalism -found himself at the helm of things from 1978 to 2008.
P N Chaudhuri who was
a true Gandhian, never
looked upon The ShiIlong
Times as a business but
rather as a calling and a
service to the community
Gean Willington Lyngdoh
Fondly called Bah Gean, Lyngdoh was an asset to The Shillong Times as he was an all-rounder covering all beats. Lyngdoh was associated with the editorial team from the latter part of 1980 till the early part of 1990.
During his stint, Lyngdoh covered Assembly proceedings, District Council affairs and major political developments.
He was knowledgeable in banking and finance and his articles on economic issues in the 1990s were noteworthy. Lyngdoh carried out meticulous research before venturing out for exclusive interviews.
His questions during interviews and press conferences were relevant and provoking.
Bah Gean also stood out in his attire. Many of his former colleagues likened him to British Prime Minister John Major because of his familiar suit and black-framed spectacles.
Fond of musicians like Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves and Connie Francis, Lyngdoh did not socialise much and had selective friends.
A close friend of Lyngdoh and fellow journalist, Philip Marwein, acknowledged that he was a man who donned many hats.
Besides his association with this daily, he was also the editor of Kynjatshai and till death he worked with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.
Lyngdoh was one of the founding members of Meghalaya Editors and Publishers Association and Shillong Press Club.
He passed away on June 29, 2011, at his residence at Mission Compound, MawkhaSanjay Sharma,
who was the first Chief of Bureau of The Shillong Times in Tura from 1992 to 1996 and subsequently joined Shillong office, was a prolific writer, and contributed much to journalism in Meghalaya.
Sharma, always had a way with words but he was never content withit.
His steadfast faith in the invincibility of the power of words led him to journalism and by the time he moved on to other ventures, he had earned quite a few ‘firsts’ to his credit, one being the architect of independent journalism in Garo Hills.
In an attempt to make news accessible to the common man and extend the reach of print media to Garo Hills’ distant corners, he was instrumental in starting the Garo weekly Janera along with Late Prof. Lindrid Shira on January 13, 1993, which later turned into the daily, Salantini Janera, from August 2000.
A dedicated team man and an enthusiastic initiator, he was one of the main forces behind the golden jubilee celebrations of The Shillong Times in 1995.
After his stint with this daily, he joined Sentinel and subsequently The Times of India.
He rejoined The Shillong Times in 2004 and brought out the newspaper’s Sunday supplement titled Post Script.
An imaginative copy writer and blessed with uncanny acumen for providing excellent ad designs, he was founder of an advertising outlet christened Sheen Communications of the parent company.
Later, after leaving this daily, he started his own consultancy service, Cognet Solutions, in Shillong that focused on advertising and designing.
Sharma passed away in May 2012 in Shillong at the age of 45. His creativity, versatility, and efficiency were his forte.
Gideon W Pohti
Pohti was associated with The Shillong Times as a reporter from 1989 for almost a decade. Though he departed prematurely at 40, his contribution to journalism in Meghalaya in that short span of time will be remembered.
Pohti used to cover all beats but he focused more on politics and district council affairs.
Prior to joining this daily, he was appointed the Editor of Khasi daily Mawphor. With vast experience in the field of vernacular journalism, Pohti published and edited a Khasi daily, U Sangot.
When The North East Daily started publishing from Guwahati, Pohti joined the group but the daily did not last long.
He later became a freelance journalist.
As he was known for his capacity to guide various organisations, Pohti was part of the Meghalaya Editors and Publishers Association and Shillong Press Club as secretary. He passed away on August 26, 2009, after battling with cancer.
Shuli Daiho Mao
Mao excelled as a crime reporter with The Shillong Times daily. He was known for many exclusive stories, especially the first infamous question paper leak of MBoSE examinations which eventually brought about a lot of reforms in the examination system in the state.
Major crime news somehow tended to find a way first reached Mao and he followed them up meticulously.
Mao joined The Shillong Times in 1999 though prior to this, he was associated with The Meghalaya Guardian and contributed to news magazines.
When The Asian Age was launched from Guwahati in 2002, he left this daily to join the new venture as its Kohima correspondent.
Later, he joined Nagaland Post and covered several beats.
Mao, hailing from Shajouba village in Manipur, passed away on September 16, 2012, in a freak incident of bee attack in Nagaland at the young age 37. Mao’s popularity was such that prominent Naga political leaders hailed him for his personality and contribution to investigative journalism.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and redoubtable S C Jamir had described Mao as a hardworking journalist who dedicated his life to the profession.
Joshi started his career in journalism in 1989, was associated with The Shillong Times from 1991 when it was re- launched as an offset printed broadsheet daily. Though Joshi enjoyed covering sports, especially football, he also filed stories on political developments and other social issues.
One of the achievers in sports journalism in Meghalaya, Joshi started his career with Pateng Mynta newspaper in 1989.
He was also associated with The Meghalaya Guardian, Sun magazine and a host of vernacular dailies published from the state. As a news photographer, Joshi dispatched his stories along with the complementing photographs that he clicked. He was a regular contributor to the news bulletin of All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the newspapers in the city regularly carried his reports on I-League football matches and other sports events.
He went on to become the media manager of the Rangdajied Football Club.
Suraj was the founding member and associate editor of the news website www.ohmeghalaya.com. When Joshi, who was a resident of Mawprem locality, passed away on August 25, 2013, he was in his forties and one year short of silver jubilee of his career.
Om Prakash Shira
Shira was fondly called Al (after his baptism name Aldrin but pronounced as Ol). He was the Man Friday of The Shillong Times Garo Hills Edition and Janera.
He was associated with the organisation since 1993. A man for all seasons he was the lynchpin on ground zero. Be it on the field collecting data for a story, punching away on the computer keyboard, editing or preparing the blue print or pasting the layout, each bore the magic touch of Al. He had also worked in the DTP section of The Shillong Times for a brief period of time. Al was the go-to man and the technical machine that everyone fell back on in times of crisis. A workaholic, he never missed the Sunday night bus leaving Tura to take the Janera layout all the way to Shillong for the printing works and thereby ensured its timely release every Tuesday. He was a jovial person who could never say ‘no’ to anyone seeking his assistance.
He touched many a heart with his pleasing simplicity. His death on February 26, 2011, at the young age of 39 was huge loss for the Shilllong Times family.
Gerald was a trainee reporter with The Shillong Times from October 1, 1995 to September 30,1996. He was passionate about journalism. His fellow journalists recalled him as a hardworking reporter who concentrated on crime reporting.Major crime reports of the period and the follow-up reports found place in this daily thanks to Gerald.Gerald, hailing from Nongrah, passed away on October 1, 2014.
Narayan worked with The Shillong Times as its Consulting Editor from 2009 October till June 2010. Narayan, who had also covered the North East for The Indian Express from 1983 to 87, passed away in 2015 in New Delhi.
He wrote a book on Nellie massacre and published it on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the incident.
Gurung was a plate maker and passed away in 2015. Born on February 19, 1969, Gurung joined The Shillong Times in 1994 and served the organisation for 21 years till his untimely death. He was one of the longest serving staff in the production wing of the daily.
A highly dependable hand Augustine Buam left a big vacuum when he passed away on December 19, 2014, at the age of 40. He started working as a circulation and business assistant from May 24, 2000. Buam also extended his help to other office matters, including dispatch of bills and carrying out field work.
called Bah Gean, was an asset to The Shillong
Times as he was an all-rounder covering all beats. Lyngdoh was associated with the editorial team from the latter part of 1980 till the early part of 1990. During his stint, Lyngdoh covered Assembly proceedings,
District Council affairs
and major political
The Shillong Times recalls with immense sense of gratitude the sterling services rendered by Late Hrishi Kumar Bhattacharjee and Late Prathibha Ranjan Dey — two pillars for their dedication, leadership and dependability.
(We have featured the departed staff based on available records.
If any name has been omitted, it was unintentional and
readers can reach out to us with their contributions)