Gaurav Gautam Saha presents a conversation with Mumtaz Begum; she hails from Hojai in central Assam. She is a practicing lawyer, courtesy Hojai Bar Association.
The following paragraphs focus on the challenges of being a lawyer, the passion that drives one toward the profession, and beyond. Tête-à-tête with Mumtaz Begum, an advocate from Assam’s Hojai:
1. Why did you become an advocate and be in the judiciary?
I never intended to become a lawyer; I had many plans for my future while growing up, including becoming a teacher, engineer, doctor, scientist, air hostess, businessman, and many other things.
The thought of becoming a lawyer had never even occurred to me; until one afternoon after I had taken my medical entrance exam. I was returning home and saw a random advertisement about the J.B. law College’s ongoing admission; I decided to apply.
2. How challenging is it to be a lawyer in Hojai or Assam?
Despite what many believe, being a lawyer is more than just about knowing the law. I know people who excel in the judiciary (law) and learn all or as many rules as they can but need to improve in practice as an advocate. When you’re a woman, it takes a lot of courage to enter this field because women aren’t seen as people who can stay out late for work or run back and forth a lot.
Fortunately, I don’t hesitate to work late hours, travel to other districts if necessary, or run errands because I enjoy keeping busy. So, even though it took me four long years to discover this, it now works out for me.
3. Hojai was declared a district on 15th August 2016. Now the delimitation exercise would cut off the “district” tag and merge it with Nagaon – How do you see it?
For Hojai, I see it as “chaos” that awaits. The people of Hojai battled for it, protested for it, and after much struggle, we were granted district status under the Congress government.
However, the government snatched it away in a flash, and we will never forget it. It will undoubtedly set the residents of Hojai back, eliminate all the employees that were added when the area was designated as a district, slow down district operations, and have an effect on Nagaon.
By combining Nagaon and Hojai, which already rank among the largest districts, there would be more turmoil among the populace; more issues would arise. Hojai has over 9 lakh population, as per the 2011 census.
It is too many for Nagaon to manage under a single administration, given the size of Nagaon. In addition, everyone must now travel great distances to do their menial tasks, which is physically torturous for ordinary people and those who live in poverty.
What will they do? Can they afford all of these trip expenses? Will the employed people pardon this government for eliminating their jobs? The government made a mistake with this. Hojai residents will never forget them.
4. Hojai has a population of 9,31,218. How do you look at the dynamics regarding literacy, tribes, religion, etc.?
Hojai is a growing, one of the more advanced districts. The growth is rapid. It would be incorrect if we continued to use this population estimate; if the government had performed its duties correctly, we would have known the actual population of Hojai.
To completely understand Hojai, we must be aware of the most recent statistics, which date back to 2011. According to the legislative, literacy rates, development, and other factors, Hojai is expanding quickly.
Hojai is a city of love and peace where we all live in harmony despite the presence of various tribes and religions. Nothing significant occurred here after the 1983 Nellie Massacre. I grew up hearing all the heartbreaking tales of the N ellie Massacre and how it affected the nearby Hojai community, but I have never seen any of them. I’m happy to reside in Hojai and participate in all the festivities.
5. Share one of your best and worst personal experiences, each in your profession – as a practicing advocate.
Every line of work has its ups and downs, along with plenty of politics and mind games. I got off to a good start with a fatherly senior and managed to last four long years with a team, but not without my fair share of ups and downs and struggles.
Fortunately, I’m now completely independent and have a promising career. I’m thankful for every event, bad or good, because each helped shape who I am. Meanwhile, I always plan forward for my current situation.