At around 7:45 PM on the evening of 4th July 2012, Mr. Barun Biswas, a 35-year-old school teacher at Mitra Institution, Sialdah was coming back to his home after work. As soon as he stepped out of the Gobordanga Railway Station, 3 young men on a motorcycle came from behind and shot him in the back. Barun turned to face his killers and took the second bullet in the chest. He was killed in front of hundreds of onlookers.
The next day, the village of Sutia in the North 24 Pargana district of West Bengal was up in arms. A crowd of 40,000 mourners attended the funeral procession of Barun. People were enraged, broken and tearful.
So who was this Barun Biswas and why was Sutia in Bengal, where human life is the cheapest things these days, mourning his death so bitterly?
Back in 2000-2003, Sutia was everything that is wrong with India. This otherwise nondescript village had achieved notoriety for being the rape village of Bengal. These were not crimes of passion committed by men with raging hormones. Instead, Sutia was infamous for gang rapes, an armed gang of upto 70 criminals barging into the homes of hapless villagers and raping girls and women in front of their family members.
Consider the following testimonials by the victims:
“I cannot count how many of them forced themselves on me. I still shudder at the memory of that brutal sexual assault. It gives me nightmares. I wake up trembling because I knew some of the faces. My father and brother were forced to watch me being raped again and again. My world crumbled that night…”
“My father tried to protect me when the gang pounced on me. But they hit him on the head with a gun. My younger sister, too, was beaten up and dragged out of the house. One of them shoved a pistol barrel into my father’s mouth and forced him and my brother to watch as they took turns raping me. A chill runs down my spine when I remember that night …They laughed and joked. I bore the pain and humiliation because I was afraid they would kill my father or rape my sister also. Mercifully, I fell unconscious after a couple of hours.”
“It was nine years ago when the gang first raided my house. They raped me in front of my husband and son, who was a teenager then. When I resisted, they became furious and threatened to teach me a lesson for daring to speak up…”
So this was Sutia in those dark days, a personal fiefdom run by criminals led by Sushanta Chaudhary and Bireshwar Dhali. Women could not step out of their homes for the fear of being raped. If any woman protested used as a pleasure thing by these leeches, the gang would barge into the house and rape every female in the family. Girls were raped in front of their father and brothers, women were raped in front of their husbands and sons. No one, neither the administration nor the political leaders had the courage to stand up against this worst specimen of Mafiosi. People would not file a police complaint and would not even go to Doctors for treatment of the victims, such was the reign of fear.
It was in those days that Barun, then a school teacher in his early Twenties, decided that he could not remain silent anymore. He openly supported the Rape Victims and had the first FIR filed. Barun kept fighting to get justice for these victims. Encouraged by his incessant crusade against the criminal raj, more people joined him. Slowly the protest gained the shape of a mass movement and the administration was no longer able to ignore what was happening in the area. Unable to withstand the fight back of the people, the criminals were forced to surrender and six of them were sentenced long terms by the courts. Sutia finally could breathe again the air of relief..
But now Mastermoshai, as Barun was fondly called by his people, has been eliminated. The people of Sutia are at the cross roads again- they will either be forced to go back to their old horrifying days or; they can make sure that every man or woman of Sutia is now a Barun Biswas. Will we be able to extend them a helping hand to make sure that the voice of protest against such Barbarism is not silenced forever?
The purpose of this post was to:
1. Give a wakeup call to those who think they are safe as long as they keep their eyes shut.
2. Send a reminder that another whistleblower is dead and its most probable that nothing will be done.
3. Try to gather some help for the people of Sutia in their renewed war to safeguard their dignity.
Many Thanks to Times of India and Indian Express for raising this issue. Share and let the whole nation know of their struggle.