“A teacher by profession, but a soldier by soul” is the only way to describe our hero, Barun Biswas. He is remembered for his valour shown on the lands of Sutia, a small village in West Bengal, for fighting against the rape group. He stood against the crime when no one else dared to stand for themselves.
In the patriarchal world we are part of, women honour is the most vulnerable asset to be used to terrorize and control people. The story goes back to the year 2000, when the residents of the Sutia village were living under perpetual fear and terror as the land become one of the rapists. The law and order had come to standstill when it comes to fighting the rapists or protesting against them. As stated by The Times of India’s report, sexual torture or assault was the weapon that the criminals under Sushanta Choudhury were using to terrorize and rule over the villagers.
Between the year 2000 and 2002, the condition was really worse. The mentioned gang-rape group would enter the houses to rape women, very often, in front of their entire family. Some studies have also reported that this rapist group used to keep a track of girl’s age in the village so that they can be raped right after they hit the puberty. What can be worse than this!
The official reports registered 33 rapes and a dozen murders but as the situation says, the numbers were much higher. The terror was such that the victims were not even ready to file a complain or utter a word against the rapists as they had all the political support.
With enough terror being witnesses, our hero, Barun Biswas, who was a school teacher and a social activist, decided to raise his voice against the heinous crime. His kindness as well as heroism can be observed by the fact that he stood for others knowing it might cost him his life.
In order to encourage and muster women to file complaints against the crime, Barun co-founded an organization called Sutia Gonodhorshon Pratibad Manch. He believed that “if we can’t protect our daughters, sisters and wives, we have no right to be a part of a civilized society. If we do not seek punishments for the criminals, we deserve a more severe punishment as tolerating a crime is a bigger crime.”
The fire that Barun had sparked was not meant to go in vain. With the positivity he had within, he managed to convince villagers and women to file complaints against the criminals. As it is believed, if stick by your cause and the truth, justice can’t be denied for long. Even if delayed, you will get it. The same happened in this case as well. The initial struggle was definitely not easy, but with each other’s support, the rape survivors were able to seek punishments for the rapists. The gang members were arrested. Five criminals, including Sushanta, were sentenced with life imprisonment.
As some reports say, Barun handed-over a copy of a book by Ramakrishna Paramhansa to Sushanta which he could read in the jail. This demonstrates that the heroic school teacher, who had also cleared the state civil service exam but rather opted social work, was strongly motivated to bring human revolution.
Although this act of humanity came at the cost of his life, he is and will always be remembered for his beautifully courageous soul which always fought for the people around him. On July 5, 2012, a decade later, he was shot dead in a parking lot outside the Gobardanga railway station in West Bengal. It is said that the order to murder Barun came from Sushanta, while he was in jail. But Barun didn’t die, he became a martyr, a hero for many. He might not be amongst us physically, but his essence would always remain.
This article was contributed by Divya Makhija.