NO ONE KILLED BARUN BISWAS
This is a takeoff on 'No One Killed Jessica Lal', and for good reason. Barun Biswas is also another person whose death remains unexplained, will possibly forever remain unexplained. But let me explain.
Yesterday I got called to the popular 'Proti-Pokkho' Bengali TV debate hosted by ABP Ananda. I go there every so often, and no such visit so far has resulted in a blog. But yesterday was different.
When I entered the studio I noticed a quiet, self-effacing man sitting at one corner whom I had never seen before. He was later introduced by the anchor as Nandadulal Das, the secretary of Association for People's Democratic Rights (APDR), Chandpara Branch. Chandpara is a village close to the sub-divisional town of Bongaon in the North 24-Parganas District of West Bengal, very close to the Indo-Bangladesh international border. Close to this village there is another village called Sutia, right on the border. APDR is an NGO I do not have much respect for -- many of their functionaries are just busybodies But this Nandadulal Das seemed different.
The story that he told, over and above what I knew of the murder of a person called Barun Biswas, literally made my hairs stand on end and prompted me to write this blog.
Like many other towns on this largely unprotected border, Sutia had become a hotbed of criminals. Two of these criminals, Bireswar Dhali and Susanta Chowdhury, started a regime of rape in this village around 2002. Some 80 women were raped or gangraped. The rapists used to move around openly, with impunity and with arms. Obviously this could not have gone on without the connivance of the police and local politicos. Then Barun Biswas stood up in protest and organized the affected villagers into a ‘Pratirodh Mancha’ (a platform for protest). He encouraged the affected women to file complaints with the police. As a result many of the criminals were arrested, convicted and jailed.
Barun used to move around carefully, with people accompanying him. But on 5th July 2012 the criminals who were plotting his murder from behind the bars got a chance. He was shot in full view of the public at Gobardanga railway station. This much is public knowledge.
Now comes the part which Nandadulal told us, which he said he had investigated and found out.
It appears that Barun was far from dead when he fell on the platform. He was bleeding profusely and was surrounded by a huge crowd. But two known criminals, one Khotey and another were standing guard over him, shooing off anyone who tried to help, saying that the police had been summoned, and anyone who tried to touch the body would get involved in a police case. No one dared to do anything. Meanwhile Barun was constantly losing blood. In that state he tried to lift his cellphone, but he was too weak to do so. Some people rushed to the Station Master, asking him to contact the police. The Station master contacted the Government Railway Police (GRP) at Bongaon who said it was not within their jurisdiction. He then contacted the local police. Eventually an ambulance arrived, and Barun was lifted on to it. Khotey then caught hold of a passing motorcyclist, got onto the pillion seat and asked him to go to the hospital. While they were on their way there (this bit Nandadulal gathered from that motorcyclist, whose name he would not give), Khotey’s cellphone rang and he answered it. In answer to whoever was talking, Khotey answered “There is nothing to worry about. He’s been hit by a .303 bullet. He won’t live”.
Jyotipriya Mallik (Balu), the local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), who is also the Minister in charge of food in the state has refused to answer questions on the death.