From World War II to editing a daily: Meet India’s ‘oldest working’ journalist

Utpal Parashar: Over the past 70 years, Lalbiakthanga Pachuau appears to have lived several lifetimes – from

donning olive green military fatigues to fight the Japanese during World War II to starting his own newspaper and editing it for close to half-a-century.
On Friday, the 90-year-old editor of the Mizo daily, Zoram Tlangau, was declared India’s oldest working journalist by the Mizoram Journalists Association.
State information minister Lal Thanzara handed over a citation to Pachuau for his long innings in journalism and his contribution to social causes at a function in Aizawl.
“I never expected to achieve such a record. I am thankful to almighty, my family, friends and colleagues for the honour,” Pachuau told HT over phone. A devout Christian, the 90-year-old hopes to continue his stint with journalism for as long as he can.
Born in Siachal, 80 km away from the state capital, Pachuau studied only till Class III before joining the Assam Regiment of the British Indian Army in 1945 at 18.
He fought for the British army in Burma (present Myanmar) against the Japanese. Pachau was awarded several medals for his valour, including the Burma Star, during his 17-year-long military career.
After leaving the army, he started writing for Mizo newspapers and went on to start Zoram Tlangau, his own newspaper, in 1970, which he edits till today.
There is no official record India’s oldest working journalist but the Mizoram Journalists Association — the apex body of journalists in the state – is confident that Pachuau is the record holder.
Guwahati-based DN Chakraborty, 85, who is the editor of Sankar Jyoti (daily) and Prag Jyotish (weekly), both in Assamese, was earlier termed by some news reports as the oldest working journalist.
“We are very lucky and proud to have someone like him in Mizoram. Besides journalism, he has contributed a lot to several social causes,” Lal Thanzara told HT.
Pachuau co-founded the voluntary blood donation association of Mizoram, was a key delegate during the peace talks between New Delhi and the Mizo National Front in 1980s and worked tirelessly to end the drug and alcohol menace, sources said.
“He has minor hearing problem, but is in good health. His routine comprises of waking up at 5:30am daily, reading lot of books and magazines and editing the paper,” said Pachuau’s son Richard.