Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee

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22 e Asharh, 1308 Bengali Era / 06th July 1901

A good deal of confusion prevails today about the ethical doctrine of Ahimsa. There is no doubt Ahimsa is one of the cardinal virtues taught by Indian thinkers of all denominations throughout the ages. Dharma consists in Ahimsa, proclaims the Mahabharat. “Ahimsa confers immortality”, declares the Code of Manu. The doctrine of Ahimsa is a necessary corollary to the Hindu belief that the supreme spirit pervades the universe, that everything is strung on the Blessed Lord as rows of gems upon a thread, and that welfare of all beings is a sacred duty. Ahimsa doubtless implies abstention from selfish and aggressive violence. …… Dr S. P. Mookherjee, convocation address at Benares Hindu University, 01.12.1940

Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, son of Sir Ashutosh Mookherjee & Lady Jogomaya Mookherjee was born in Bhawanipur, Kolkata. He was the 3rd child of his parents and their 2nd son. He had 6 siblings, 3 sisters & 3 brothers.

Sir Ashutosh & infant Shyama Prasad

Mother Jogomaya Devi was a pious and devout Hindu Lady. Shyama Prasad inherited the pious and compassionate traits of his mother as well as the indomitable courage and will of Sir Ashutosh. These virtues later on exhibited throughout his life which made him a Legend of our times. 

Young Shyama Prasad, sitting left, with his siblings – 1905.

Young Shayama Prasad started his schooling from Mitra Institution in the year 1906 from class II. He excelled in his studies throughout his academic years. He was equally brilliant in language as well as science. He passed matriculation in First division from the institute in 1917 with Merit Scholarship of Rs. 10 per month.

Mitra Institution

For higher studies he enrolled in Presidency College in English Literature. He passed his intermediate Examination in Arts in first division. in 1921 he Graduated from University of Calcutta in English Honours again with first division. At the instance of his father who had set up new Graduate & Post Graduate programs at Calcutta University including Anthropology, Bengali, Sanskrit etc, Shyama Prasad did MA in Bengali in 1923.

Presidency College Calcutta ( Kolkata ) - Mid 19th Century
Presidency College Calcutta

In the year 1922 he married Sudhamoyee Devi, daughter of Dr. Benimadhav Chakraborty. They had 5 children – the last one, a four-month-old son, died from diphtheria, shortly afterwards Sudhamoyee Devi died too due to double pneumonia in 1934. Shyama Prasad was just 32 years old. Shattered, he realised he had 2 daughters & 2 sons to look after too. Since he refused to remarry, his sister-in-law Tara Debi, wife of Justice Ramaprasad Mookerjee, took the children in her arms & brought them up along with her own children.

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Shyama Prasad with SudhaMoyee Debi

Just within an year into his marriage Shyama Prasad got the major shock of his life when his father, Sir Ashutosh expired in Patna in 1924. It was not only unexpected but untimely too. He wrote –

“My life changed its course on 25th May,1924.All the mirth and joy disappeared from my life. A new chapter had began and it continues to this day.”

The expiry of Sir Ashutosh left a vacant place in the syndicate of Calcutta University. Shyama Prasad was elected as a Fellow of the Calcutta University at the age of 23. He was appointed member of the Syndicate of the Calcutta University, in the place fallen vacant due to the death of Sir Asutosh. And very soon it became apparent that the role of his illustrious father had fallen upon his broad shoulders in educational sphere. He made the University his own, even as his distinguished father had done before him, serving it with single minded devotion for more than two decades in various capacities and making unparalleled contributions to the cause of advancement of learning- its declared motto.

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Calcutta University 1910

Shyama Prasad completed his Bachelor of Law in 1924. He stood 1st class 1st in BL. Thereafter he enrolled himself in Calcutta High Court as Vakil. Later in 1926 he left for England to join the Lincoln’s Inn. He was called to join the English Bar. However, Shyama Prasad felt he should return and fight for the millions of uprooted countrymen who were suffering from the political, economical & social debacles. He could have easily risen to the top of his profession and shone like his father but he had made his choice in favour of his people.

After he returned, Shyama Prasad was elected as representative of Calcutta University to the Bengal Legislative Council.  He introduced Hindi, Bengali & Urdu both in the Graduate & Post Graduate courses in Calcutta University, College Code for the 1st time, abolished age restriction in the University, introduced vocational teachers training courses, Introduction of modern libraries in the New Central Library Hall are some of his remarkable achievements. In 1938 Calcutta University conferred on him D. Lit and Benaras Hindu University conferred LL.D (Honoris Causa). In 1943, Shyama Prasad was elected as President of Royal Asiatic Society, the 1st Indian to be given that honour. In the aforesaid and hundred other ways, he enhanced the reputation & prestige of his Alma Matter and fulfilled his father’s dream to make Calcutta University among the best in the world.

Shyama Prasad in 1924

Like all patriotic Indians, Shyama Prasad joined Congress and became member of Bengal Legislative council in 1929, but he resigned due to the wake of Civil Disobedience movement in 1930. In 1931 after Gandhiji called off the movement, Shyama Prasad was elected again, this time as an Independent candidate. Again in 1937 he was elected from the University constituency. It was during his tenure in the Bengal Legislative Assembly, Dr Mookherjee came face to face with the realities of Indian Politics and the unnatural & utopian approach of Congress towards it. He also saw its continuous pandering to appeasement of Muslim League, the social, educational & cultural life of Bengalis esp. Hindus were being jeopardised. In 1939, when Muslim League engineered a massive riot against the Hindus in Dacca, Chittagong, Munshigunj and Pabna, by plundering the Hindu temples, outraging the modesty of Hindu women and all sorts of barbarism with the connivance of British, he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. He saw through the evil designs of the British who rewarded the Muslims for these atrocities for they wanted to teach the Nationalist Hindus a lesson for playing a leading role in the fight for India’s Freedom. The Congress merely watched all that unfolded in front of their eyes. They scrupulously abstained from condemning the Muslim lawbreakers and did not object the curtailment of Hindu rights to public services. The Congress which took decisions on the “Inner Voice” of Gandhiji: a-priori decisions were not based on scrutiny of reasons.

After joining Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad organised its annual session in Calcutta under the Presidentship of the great revolutionary Veer Savarkar. He was made Acting President of Hindu Mahasabha on 1940. When Mr. Fazlul Haq ( he worked as Sir Ashutosh’s Junior at one point of time) asked for support from Hindu MLAs, Shyama Prasad agreed to help him. He was made the Finance Minister in 1941 of the newly formed Progressive Coalition Party. He was in the ministry for only 11 months, but in that period he was successful to foster the spirit of communal harmony to such an extent that not a single communal strife in Bengal happened. However, one incident was so exasperating that he tendered resignation soon after sorting it out. In Tamluk and Contai districts of Midnapore, Tramralipti Jatiya Sarkar was formed. These places were placed under Iron curtain so that to enter these places one would need permits issued by the authorities. Added to it a devastating cyclone swept the coastal areas of Midnapore. 40000 people died along with lakhs of cattle. When Ramkrishna Mission volunteers reached the areas they had to wade through slush and mire braving the stench of rotten corpses and carcasses. They were the 1st people to reach the sites of ghastly tragedies to render services. They saw everything that was once standing tall was razed to the grounds. The entire region was smitten with death and despair. The then District Magistrate Mr. N. M. Khan, a super egoist bureaucrat was loyal to his King, in cruelty & barbarity he supressed this news of calamity for more than a fortnight, in order to teach the supporters of the Quit India Movement a permanent lesson. Some of the volunteers who could slip out after a fortnight, went straight to Shyama Prasad and informed him about the deluge. Shyama Prasad rushed to Midnapore for help and called the local survivors for a meeting. But the locals were terrified of telling about their woes in front of the magistrate who kept himself seated tight in the room. Realising the situation, Shyama Prasad asked him to leave the room. But the latter refused to comply by saying “I am the District Magistrate of Midnapore”. Infuriated, Shyama Prasad thundered :

“Impertinent Man, as an honourable Minister, I order you to go out of this room at once”

  Mr Khan had to leave the room. After hearing the plight of the people Shyama Prasad forced Khan to issue a communication and frame a Flood Relief Committee on 3.11.1942. As soon as he returned to Calcutta, Shyama Prasad issued directives for relief measures in Midnapore and other affected areas, Mr B R Sen was given the charge of direct supervision of the Flood affected areas thereby shunting Khan out & made him a nonentity.

After Shyama Prasad tended his resignation from the Bengal Cabinet, soon Fazlul Haq was also terminated from the post of CM and Muslim League was installed into power in Bengal in 24.4.1943. Then started the riots all over Bengal. Shyama Prasad went to Dacca Nawab’s palace who was the President of Muslim League from where the riots were planned and organised. After series of talks and discussions he was able to control the riots. He also informed the Muslims league’s role in the riots in an adjournment motion in the Bengal Legislation, which forced the League to restore peace and punish the guilty. However, close to the heels of the riot the Great Bengal Famine started, and lakhs of people fled to Calcutta and neighbouring towns for succour and wails and cries of :

” Fyan dao go ma, fyan dao go… amago bachao ” (Give us boiled rice water Maa and save us)

We now find Shyama Prasad plunging headlong into manifold humanitarian, administrative and Political activities for providing relief to this man made famine. He said in Bengal Legislative that

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Excerpts from ‘Bharat Kesari Dr Shyama Prasad’ by S C Das.

However British did little for the people of Bengal. But Shtama Prasad launched a gigantic relief program for the succour of people. Bharat Sevasram Sangha, HIndu Mahasabha, ramKrishna Mission, Marwari Relief Society, Arya Samaj and many other non official relief organisations came forward to support him. This is an example of a particular day in and around Kolkata, Dacca, Noahkhali and some more places, about his relief work.

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Relief work in Calcutta, Murshidabad, Noahkhali, Khulna, Burwan etc. by Shyama Prasad.

After 8 months of voluntary relief work by Shyama Prasad and others, the Bengal Govt rose from slumber and took charge. in February 1944 he said :

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After 8 months of Famine when the Bengal Govt took charge of relief work

All the extensive and rigorous relief work took toll in his health, he had to leave for his ancestral house in Madhupur, Bihar and convalesce there till October 1946. Bengal witnessed the frightful Direct Action Day during this time. From that to the Partition of Bengal after Independence series of events rushed past like hurricane leaving many baffled by the uncertainties that hung over the political horizon of our country. Noakhali Riots was one of them. The massacre that was witnessed by relief workers were unparalleled in any riot stricken areas on the planet. This was the reaction of Muslims in Noakhali when Direct Action Day did not bear the desired results. Relief came late, because the news of the riot was suppressed by the Bengal Govt. However, some Hindu leaders from Noakhali & nearby areas sent telegrams describing the riot to Shyama Prasad & Sarat Bose & asked for help. Stunned by the news Shyama Prasad rushed to the areas along with Bharat Sevasram Sangh. The riot started on 10th October 1946, when Shyama Prasad reached Noakhali, on 16th October, Bengal Govt still did not let the media know about the riots. He & other Hindu Mahasabha leaders sent rice, clothes and necessary ingredients by trains to Noakhali, Tipperah, Faridganj etc. After Shyama Prasad came to the forefront, many freedom fighters too joined in to provide relief. He asked for Army Intervention in the riot stricken areas, but Bengal Govt refused to oblige. After much pressurisation from the relief volunteers, Bengal Govt started passive and apathetic relief work. He also formed the Hindusthan National Guard to save the affected people during the communal disturbances.

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Shyama Prasad with the riot affected people

Then Gandhiji appeared in Noakhali. But mistrust between Hindus & Muslims continued to exist & stray incidents of violence occurred even during his stay in Noakhali, his stay in Noakhali was resented by the Muslim leadership. Gandhiji discontinued his mission halfway and started for Bihar on 2 March 1947 at the request of the Muslim League leaders of Bengal. Within a month after leaving Noakhali Gandhiji received telegrams from Congress Party workers in Noakhali, describing attempts to burn Hindus alive. and how he responded to that?

quit or perish
Gandhiji called for exodus or ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Noakhali.

After Independence Shyama Prasad was invited by Nehru to join his cabinet. He took over the portfolio of Industries and Supplies. He framed the first Industrial policy of the new Government of India after independence. In the beginning of 1950 there were huge MASSACRE of Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). More than 50 lakhs of Hindus left their land and home and came over India for ever. Shyama Prasad urged strong action against Pakistan, but Nehru signed a pact with Mr. Liaqut Ali Khan, PM of Pakistan. Shyama Prasad resigned from the Central Cabinet as a protest against the Nehru-Liaquat Ali pact. Devoted himself whole-heartedly to the cause of the refugees he made extensive tours for relief and rehabilitation of the refugees.

In 1951, Shyama Prasad founded Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS). He was elected to the Parliament in the 1952 General Election from South Calcutta Constituency defeating booth the Congress and the Communist candidates. He pressed firmly and vehemently in and outside the Parliament for a strong policy towards Pakistan. He formed National Democratic block in the Parliament including some opposition members and became the leader of the opposition block in the Lok Sabha.

Although he was fully absorbed in political activities, his connection with literary, social and religious organisations and associations did not cease. In November, 1952, he joined the celebrations of Sanchi where the relics of Sariputta and Moggalana, disciples of Buddha, were finally unveiled. He also visited Burma, Cambodia and other Buddhist countries of South East Asia as the President of Mahabodhi Society of India.

Shyama Prasad repeatedly spoke out against the special favours given to the Muslim majority state, Jammu and Kashmir. There was a rule during that point of time which prevented any Indian, including the President of India from entering Jammu and Kashmir without the permission of the Prime Minister of the state. The 1952 general elections in the country saw Shyama Prasad and the BJS winning three seats in the Parliament. Protesting against the rule applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, he visited Kashmir in 1953 and crossed the borders without the permission of the state’s authorities, thus facing arrest on May 11, 1953.

Shyama Prasad was taken under house arrest on May 11, 1953. Keeping him locked inside a decrepit house did not help to better pleurisy and coronary problems which he was already suffering from. He became ill and was taken to hospital in June and treated with penicillin in spite of repeated warnings to the medical authorities about his allergy to penicillin. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died while he was in hospital under mysterious circumstances. He was declared dead on June 23, 1953 and though many including his mother wanted explanations and independent enquiries into the death, Nehru clearly refused their demands, saying that once death was declared there could be no mystery. The Hindu nationalist thus died a controversial death. It is a grim tragedy that a great patriot of his stature should have died a premature death while in detention without trial; none of his near and dear one being present at the time of his death. Shyama Prasad in order to foil the evil designs of Sheikh Abdulla the self proclaimed Premier of Jammu and Kashmir, not only gave up his precious life for the sake of the country but forced the Government of India to accept that there must be “One Nation,One Nishan One Bidhan and One Pradhan in India”.

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Imams, Durga Puja & Mamata

On 3rd October, 2018, Kolkata saw a Mega Rally organised by The All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, a body comprising Muslim clerics and scholars from all across the state. They were upset about Mamata Government’s intention about contributing to each of 28000 Durga Puja Committees a sum of Rs. 10000. What absolutely stunning about the rally, was their objection to Govt of West Bengal’s Act of Balancing between the majority community, Hindus & the next majority, Muslims. They had a readymade solution to their woes too.
Lets see what their demand are:
  • An aid of Rs 200,000 each to all the madrasas on the line of the fund provided by the state government to the local clubs.
  • Hike in the stipend of Imams from Rs 2,500 they are getting at present to Rs 5,000.
  • Twaha Siddiki also sought at least 16 seats from the ruling TMC for minorities in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled next year.
  • A muslim be made police commissioner in the city and more minority representatives in the forces.
  • They want recruitments of more teachers in the 614 Madrasas in the state and immediately initiating a Madrasa Service Commission for recruitment of teachers.

 

They have also issued an ultimatum. “We have given one week’s time to the Chief Minister to come out with her decision regarding our demands. After that we will take decision on our next course of action”, The clerics Federation secretary Mohammed Quamruzzaman said.

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Now that Mamata’s pet, the mullas, have come out demanding for raise of Imam Stipend for Imams and a Muslim Police Commissioner of Kolkata because of her DurgaPuja Chanda (Rs 10000), guess what Mamata can do.
1. She accepts the demands and raise the Imam Stipend to Rs 5000 from Rs 2500, makes a muslim Police Commissioner. Appeases the muslims. Makes way for more such “fundamental rights” demands in the future.
2. She accepts to increase Imam Stipends only. So, every year she will have to dish out Rs, 5000x10000x12 = Rs 60 cr. But do remember, she already pays for the Imams Rs 30 cr. This increase will impact her yearly budget for Minority development. Doesn’t she whine every time that her funds are close to nil?
3. She accepts to appoint a Muslim Police Commissioner. Is this constitutionally viable? Can you appoint a person from a specific religion as a Public servant? Why not then from a Sikh or a Buddhist Community? She might not agree to their demands as of now, but, later on actually appoint a Muslim Police Commissioner.
4. She might discontinue Durga Puja contribution of Rs 10000 from next year, but that will reflect on the 2021 Assembly Election. She knows that, if Modi comes to power again in 2019, she will lose a lot of her strongholds. Only her Vishnu Mata can save her then.
5. She can ignore all the demands. But, I really doubt that she would, she knows how vicious they are. Take the example of Barkati and Twaha Siddiki, they can crush her dreams of becoming a 3rd time Chief Minister or a Bengali Prime Minister altogether. By the way, Twaha is from AIMIM.
6. She can stand firm in her decision n reject all the demands. If she goes ahead with the usual course of actions of the Government of West Bengal and continues with the Durga Puja contribution every year as well as the Madrassa education, Minority development etc without much change, she will win accolades for this action. It will be a good example of balancing both the sides.
Please also know, she pays for Madrassa education, development, startups, housings etc for the minorities around Rs 3000 crores and above. I have a serious question. The Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists etc are the real minorities in West Bengal. Together they are less than 10%, whereas Muslims are over 25% of the population. Why no separate development funds for the REAL minorities in the state?

The Bangalore Serial Blasts of 2008

Date 25th July 2008, Place : Bangalore (Bengaluru)

2008 was a year of turbulence. There were bomb blasts all over the country. The terrorists involved in these cases were affiliated to SIMI, LeT, IM, HuJI etc with links to Pakistan & Bangladesh. Bengaluru was attacked on 25th July.

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7 Bombs 7 places. Another bomb was found & defused on 26th July near Forum Mall, Koramangala. A woman was killed & 20 injured in this terrorist attack. Since the blasts were of Low intensity the casualties were low. Gelatine sticks were used in the bombs. Timers were attached to the bombs which were triggered off by a mobile phone. This pattern of bombs were used in Hyderabad, Jaipur & Ajmer blasts too. As per the police, the terrorists only wanted to scare the people, Investigation Bureau suggested SIMI hand behind the blast.

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Following the blasts panic set in. People ran helter skelter at the blast sites, mobile lines were jammed, traffic came to a halt. Shops & schools remained open even after the blasts. Nakabandis had been set up at sensitive areas, entry points & check points to the state. Police had rounded up 40 ppl for interrogations. Most of the people caught for interrogation were locals of Gurappanapalya. LeT & SIMI were named as conspirators behind the blasts. HuJI of Bangladesh was also named. 

Like the Malegaon & Mecca Masjid blasts, Bengaluru blasts too took place after the Friday Namaaz. It was reported that sleeper cells were activated as terror camps in Karnataka forest were discovered earlier that year. All pointed to the footprints of Jihadi network. The Anti-Terrorist Cell (ATC) attached to the Belgaum district Police arrested three suspected SIMI cadres. They were identified as Naveed Khaji and Ansar Nizami, both from Malmaruti area, and Sadiq Mulla of Azad Nagar. The arrest took place on the basis of information given by suspected SIMI cadres Tanveer Mulla and Iqbal Jakati, who were arrested recently.

A  SIMI cadre was arrested in connection with the serial blasts in 25th September 2008. Mohammad Samee Bagewadi alias Mohammad Samee attended most of the important camps organised by the SIMI at Castle Rock near Hubli in Karnataka, Vagamon in Kerala and other places and also underwent training in these camps. Bagewadi, a resident of Bijapur, was allegedly influenced by SIMI’s ideology, and was closely associated with its leaders such as Safdar Nagori, Hafeez Hussain alias Adnan, Shibly, Tauqeer, Shahbaaz, Abu Bashar and others.

Then on February 2009, police arrested 9 Kerala-based terrorists of the Indian Mujahideen outfit in connection with the serial bomb blasts. They were identified as Abdul Sattar alias Sainuddin, his son Sarfuddin, Abdul Jabber, Mujeeb Mohiddin, Faizal Abdul Rehman, Abdul Jaleel Moosa, Manaf Mohammad alias Rahees, Badruddin Noor Ahmed and Sakariya. Abdul Sattar, had revealed the whereabouts of the other two accused during interrogation. These militants, along with Abdul Sattar, are reported to be part of the Shahabuddin Brigade, a south India module of the IM. Sarfaraz Nawaz, 32, who allegedly played a major role in financing the Bangalore blasts, had reportedly sought refuge in Muscat, was also had been nabbed by the RAW. Nawaz was reportedly close to Riyaz Bhatkal, a key LeT operative, who later took over the charge of the Indian Mujahideen.

Sarfaraz collected about INR 320000 from like-minded people ahead of the bomb blasts. He also took part in reconnaissance of various spots and attempted to send a suspected terrorist involved in the blast across the border to train with the LeT in Pakistan. Kerala politician PDP leader Abdul Naseer Madani had close links with the LeT activist Nasir. 3 aides of Nasir were detained. Madani’s wife Soofiya was also arrested. 

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All the accused had been charged with waging war against the country under Section 121A of the IPC and causing grievous injury and conspiracy under Section 120B of IPC.

Bengaluru had been hit by bomb blasts 4 times in the recent history, 2008, 2010 (before an IPL match where 15 were injured), 2013 (outside BJP HQ, 16 injured) & 2014 (in front of Coconut Grove Restaurant, 1 killed, 3 injured). Investigation by the central security agencies proved that it has become a haven for leaders of terror organisations.The Karnataka Anti-Terrorist Squad was formed in 2008 soon after serial blasts.

Analysis showed that though the attack was preplanned, it wasnt ’successful’ enough because of the distribution & timings of the bomb blasts, bombs were made using Ammonium nitrate, which is relatively easy to obtain thus suggested the involvement of internal terrorist groups.

Police and ATS said the accused had three motives: to tarnish Bangalore’s iconic status acquired after the IT boom; its economic prosperity; and Karnataka being a BJP-ruled State. They were also involved in several other cases, including killing Hindu activists in Kerala, the officials said. – The Hindu

 sources : http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/database/Karnatakaislamist.htm

https://bit.ly/2Ocwzcx

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3281800.cms?referral=PM&utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

 

 

 

Remembering the Mahanayak of Bengali Cinema – Uttam Kumar

Uttam Kumar was a Phenomenon. He was the ruler of the hearts of millions of Bengalis. This iconic actor mesmerised us for decades. Today in 1980, he breathed his last. Still his popularity and his charisma wins hands down.

Once labelled as a Flop Master after series of films that were cropper starting from Mayador in 1947, till the Basu Paribar hit the theatres. Story changed radically. Shaare Chuattor  & Agniporikha gave his career a stellar push. He became an instant Idol.

Uttam Kumar was preceded by stallwarts like Pramathesh Barua, Chhabi Biswas, Kamal Mitra etc. Instead of being daunted by them, Uttam Kumar used his gentle ordinariness to change the high theatrical showbiz into a natural effortless performance. it became his signature. His apparent average looks, his gait, mannerisms, smile all were smashing hit like his performance among Bengalis. That average look became a magnet of adulation, his gait was imitated widely, his smile was idolised and his romance captured the heart of millions.

Such is his popularity that people still believe nobody can carry off dhoti & Punjabi with as flair as the Mahanayak. The Charm & the smile would still lit up the souls & fantasies of generations of women. The kind of magic, power & hold he had over his fans are difficult to comprehend. Uttam singing ‘Ei path jodi na…’ and pillion-rider Suchitra cooing ‘tumi bolo’ into his ear has been the Bengali’s idea of romance for decades. He was himself a very soulful singer, an avid sportsman and a compassionate soul. He stood for his junior artists, technicians & contemporaries at their time of need.

Men imitated his style from head to toe. His smirk, the Uttam Hair cut, Uttam drawl became a craze in Bengal. Soumitra (Feluda) had said: “If Uttam Kumar committed a crime and then he gave that smile, I was ready to believe he was innocent.”

From a pervert Jamindar ‘Madhab Dutta’ in Stree, dedicated doctor in Agnishwar, hardcore romantic in Saptapadi to a superstar Arindam Mukherjee in Nayak, Uttam Kumar has enthralled the Bengali Cine lovers for decades.

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His untimely death unleashed an unprecedented public hysteria all over Bengal. while shooting for Ogo Bodhu Sundori he suffered a massive heart attack, He was rushed to the Belle vue Clinic where doctors tried to resuscitate him for 16 hours. However all their efforts failed. Uttam Kumar Died at night. As his hearse wound its way across Bhowanipur and finally to the Keoratala Mahasmashan, traffic in Kolkata came to a halt as thousands flocked the streets to pay their respects and have a last glimpse of the Icon.

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The fanfare and adulation Uttam Kumar received can be comparable to only that of Saurav Ganguly. Uttam Kumar was aware of his status among the mass. ‘He lived the whole of his cinema- starred, produced, directed, set the score and in one case even did playback singing. Kumar’s popular heft is unmatched either before or after him. Throughout his life, a mad following stalked him, distressed his free movements and put to interrogation his closely-held middle-class upbringing. His cult has increased incrementally since his death in 1980, managing to include a younger generation of viewers with all their baggage of new cultural tastes.’ – Stardust.

My favourite films of Uttam Kumar are: Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Agnipariksha, Indrani, Chadmabeshi, Khoka Babur Pratyabartan, Chriyakhana, Mouchak, Shaare Chuattar, Shap Mochan, Chowringhee, Sagarika, Bagh Bondi Khela, Jhinder Bondi, Bhranti Bilash, Pothey Holo Deri, Rajkumari, Agnishwar, Deya Neya, Thana theke aschi, Marutirtha Hinglaj etc.

Sadly apart from a couple of National Film Awards and a few BAFNA awards his contribution to the Bengali cinema was ignored both by the state & the Central Govt till date.

 

The Hostel Fiasco of Medical College, Kolkata

While Mamata Banerjee was cramming her brain with her speech for Sahid Sammelon on 21st July, handful of Medical College, Kolkata (MCK) students were on indefinite hunger strike. Aniket, Ayan, Arnab, Aapan, Soumyadip & Sumit since 10th July. 15 more students have joined the protest from 18th July. These students want instead of allotting Hostel rooms only to the freshers, all students should be provided the facility in the newly built 11 storeys boys hostel. By the way there are 4 more boys hostel and 2 separate girls hostel in MCK. 

13 days have gone by. Aniket & some more students are fallen sick. They have a BP chart hung on the wall which shows steady decrease in their BP. The College Administration are citing no response from “higher authorities”. Mamata, health Minister of WB, is the ‘Higher Authority’.

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While the national media these days were focused on why & how Rahul hugged Modi and then winked, the media coverage of the protest was restricted to a couple of paras tucked away in an ignorable corner. Even the state media preferred to ignore their plight. 

But

Few points here needs to be considered, whenever freshers and seniors of a college are boarded at a same hostel, ragging happens. It is a fact. The seniors have upper hand on the freshers. There are innumerable instances of ragging where seniors & freshers get to stay in the same building. If you can google about ragging in Calcutta Medical College, you may find many such incidents. It is the same in other college/university hostels too.

Left parties are taking special interest in this case. are they trying to retrieve their lost space in students politics by supporting the student protestors? Very recently SFI JNU has extended its support to the protestors. Many CPM leaders have expressed their solidarity with the students from Day 1. Hostels are ‘owned’ by several political students wings. Chhatra Parishad, SFI etc.

Again, the way the students have protested is objectionable. They have harassed the HODs of the College, maligned their names by calling them TMC’s dalal. Many teachers have been physically harassed too. When the college admin gave them a hostel matrix within 2 days of Hunger strike why didn’t the students agree with it? Why does the seniors want rooms in the newly built hostel only? There are still 4 hostels for the male students. Till recently all the resident students were allotted rooms there. Also, girls need extra hostel facilities due to rise in the number of female students from 150 to 250. The protestors have not risen this issue during this hunger strike.

Lastly, the protesting students have called in outsiders to support their protest and sensationalise the entire situation. These outsiders have created a ruckus during this entire fiasco. How and why were they roped in for an internal matter of a medical college? This definitely rises security concern for other students who did not participate in this protest.

In this entire episode, no one thought about the patients who visit the college hospital for treatment. Everyday thousands of patients visit the hospital. As many interns are also protesting, the medical service is hampered a lot. Moreover in this chaos and disruption many doctors are unable to perform their duties. Shouldn’t anyone think of the patients lives too?? 

The situation is now almost like the Mexican Stand Off. Both the parties are holding each other at gunpoint. It is the test of the nerves. The one who gives up loses this battle. If the students body withdraws 1st it will be a political suicide for them as well as any future such protest. The ‘Higher authorities’ will never pay heed to any students movement henceforth. Both the parties know it well. The Higher authorities are playing a wait and watch game right now. they are waiting for the students to surrender.

There is no reason why the students should call off this strike if their demands are not met. Right now they are in the point of no return. The protesting students need a negotiator, fast, as the health condition of many of them are fearfully low. What a huge ego clash with the students who will be our future life saviours, when will the bootlickers of the higher authorities understand this? Only way to come out of this Mexican stand off is taking help of a negotiator. A negotiator acceptable to both the parties. Who is also be sympathetic to their cause. If the Negotiator is not arranged ASAP and something unpleasant happens to the students, Mamata can say goodbye to 2021 Legislative assembly election. No laloo or kejriwal or RaGa can save her then.

Meanwhile,

Al Amin Mission in CMC has 70 medical students. 69 of them are muslim. all of them stay in a single hostel where non muslims are not allowed. there is no ragging or leg pulling between them. Unity n brotherhood is seen among those student lodgers. here there are not a single maoist or atheist. Contrast this with the so called Hindu students. 

A daring feet – ski to The Last Degree

Meet the 2 Indian Ladies

MadhabiLata Mitra & Tanvi Buch. heard their names? MadhabiLata is a Kolkata based supermodel & a mountaineer and Tanvi is a Mumbai based photographer and architect. They are going to perform a deed which will etch their names in the Indian History of adventure.

MadhabiLata & Tanvi are going to be a part of a skiing expedition to the south pole this December. They are going to train for the expedition in Scotland from 1st Sept to 9th Sept this year. If they can successfully complete their training they will be selected for the daring feet in South Pole this December. After that, they are likely to start their journey in mid-December according to Ankita Mitra, who is the director of Kolevent, a Kolkata-based agency, that will be sending Madhabilata and Tanvi for the expedition.They will be the 1st Indian women to ski the Last Degree to the South Pole.

Madhabilata is a trained mountaineer. She said about her expedition ‘I am travelling from a city of 40º Celsius to a – 40º Celsius place. I wont return without conquering it’. She was crowned as Sananda Tilottama 2006.

Tanvi is the youngest member of the team which comprises 6 woman global team. She is just 24. Tanvi is also a student of University of British Columbia. She loves to cook, paint, and play Badminton. But Photography is her passion. With her Canon EOS 600D she loves to capture the “immensity & power of mother Naturehttp://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/280764/#b/

There are 4 more women from other countries – UK, Canada, Ireland. Their leader Janice Meek is a Guinness record holding adventurer, ocean rower and polar adventurer. the team will be taking the 200-mile trek that Robert Scott didn’t survive in 1912.

During the gruelling challenge there is 24-hour sunlight but temperatures in December (the summer) average at a treacherous -30º Celsius. The ‘Polar Maidens’ expedition will be using the latest technologies to measure the physical and mental impact of extreme conditions on 6 ordinary but well-prepared women aged 24-74.

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Antarctica, the coldest, driest and windiest continent,  is also a desert. There is no indigenous population & undiscovered till the 19th century by humans. These 6 women will be proving the point “People do not decide to become extraordinary, they decide to accomplish extra ordinary things”– Edmond Hillary.

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PS: India’s newest Antarctica base is Bharati, commissioned in 2012 & started operation in 2015, was constructed out of 134 shipping containers. The 1st one was Dakshin Gangotri, commissioned in 1983 & Maitri in 1990. while Maitri is currently fully operational, Dakshin Gangotri was decommissioned after it got buried under the ice and has been marked now as an historic site. India built a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini. Maitri accomplished the mission of geomorphologic mapping of Schirmacher Oasis. Lieutenant Ram Charan, an Indian Navy meteorologist, was the first Indian to visit the Antarctica in 1960 along with an Australian Polar Expedition team.

A book that’s deeply disturbing – The Missionary Position

What Missionaries of Charity actually means? I am Reblogging Bindu Ma’m’s blog.

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I bought the book “The Missionary Position – Mother Teresa in theory and practice” by Christopher Hitchens almost two months back but kept putting off reading it. I knew that it would disturb me and well, it did. By the time Mother Teresa was made into a saint, my adulation had run its course and I wasn’t in agreement with her sainthood. That her work had nothing to do with saving orphaned children nor providing them with basic facilities and a safe life in her orphanages was something I didn’t want to accept as a fact.

Christopher Hitchens has pushed the curtain back and allowed us to see the harsh reality of Mother Teresa’s work – religious conversion. She was the church’s star because she propagated Christianity and every orphan that she took off the street was converted to Christianity. The destitute adults were secretly converted on their…

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17 Days & A Football Team – The Ordeal That Brought The World Closer

A group of 12 young footballers all between the age of 11-16 years went to an expedition after finishing their daily football training session on a fateful Sunday evening, 23rd June to a cave complex within the Doi Nang Non Mountain range in Chiang Rai Province of Northern Thailand. The Tham Luang cave had a formation with numerous waterfalls and caves near the Thai-Myanmar border. This cave which they chose to explore was already explored by them before, but this time they wanted to go further in to write their names on the wall of the cave. Little did they know they were going for the most parlous journey of their life as well. 

When they entered the cave, they left their bicycles outside the caves. The weather was fine. But, while they were in the caves, the heavy downpour started, the water level rose dangerously forcing the team to retreat to a deeper part of the cave. Meanwhile their access to the entrance of the cave got cut off as the water level rose higher. The cave system has a snake like route with a number of caves submerged in water.

One of the boys’ mothers raised the alarm when her son did not return from football training that evening. The head-coach of the team Moo Pa (Wild boars), Nopparat Khanthavong received at least 20 missed calls from the worried parents. Only 1 member of the team went home with his mother, informed Nopparat that the team had gone exploring the Tham Luang caves. Hearing this the assistant coach Ekapol Chanthawong raced up there only to find the abandoned bicycles and shoes of the boys and water seeping out of the muddy pathway. He decided to go inside to look for them. Meanwhile the head coach immediately informed the local officials.

Next day the park officials and police went searching for Moo Pa team, in heavy rain only to find handprints and footprints. Meanwhile the relatives kept vigil outside the cave where they will stay for days till they get some news. In the following days, Royal Thai Navy special operations divers went inside the cave with oxygen tanks and foods for the boys. The local officials set up makeshift shrines for the parents to pray and make offerings. The boys had retreated farther into the cave to an elevated air pocket called ‘Pattaya Beach”.

Water pumps were used to drain the rising murky flood water, hundreds of oxygen tanks and other supplies were pulleyed inside the operating base of the cave. Medics and Police practiced drills for the quick and complex evacuations that will be required when the boys are found.

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On 2nd July, after an intense 9 day search that captivated the world, the rescue team found the 12 boys and Ekapol, their coach inside a flooded cave complex. How and what kept them alive for these 9 days was a total miracle. According to the rescue officials, Ekapol (25yo), the assistant coach, gave the kids his share of food and water, taught them to meditate and conserve their energy. Ekapol who was an orphan became a monk but left the monastery to care for his ailing grandmother. He then started working as a temple hand at a monastery and trained the then newly established Moo Pa team. He loved them more than himself. He doesn’t drink nor smoke, he ferried the boys to and from home, kept a strict training schedule including cycling across the hills of Mae-Sai. His boys in turn have full faith in him as well. For the parents of the boys, Ekapol is almost a divine force, sent to protect their kids as they go through this ordeal. 

Now the attention turned to how to get the boys out safely. The main priority was to provide them food and first aid after 9 days with little to eat in difficult conditions. As rescuers weighed their options, it was apparent it would take days if not months to get them out. A group of 9 medical personnel from Thai Army, including a doc and a nurse arrived at the mound after making a 6 hour dive & trek perilous journey from the cave entrance. They were to stay with the boys for the rest of the days in the cave. The Moo Pa team was taught to use diving masks & breathing apparatus, though many of them cannot swim. Also one of the main concerns were the oxygen level inside the caves, it is said that the levels have dropped to 15%. So, limited number of rescue workers were allowed to travel into the caves to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide buildup. Generators were used to power the industrial pumps to drain out 1.6 million litres of water every hour, enough to fill over half of an Olympic pool, it has reduced the water levels inside by only 1cm an hour.

In midst all the frantic efforts to rescue the team, a Thai Navy Seal officer, Saman Kunan, who was a volunteer for the rescue operation died as he mage his way out of the caves after placing the oxygen tanks inside the underground complex. Though his partner and other rescuers tried to resuscitate him he died at 1 am local time. His death pointed out the risks of bringing out the team through the cave’s cramped, flooded passageways which took the divers 5 hours or more. The visibility in the murky water was also very poor. There are also several narrow checkpoints in the 10KM long cave network, one of them is only 38cm wide.

In the meantime handwritten notes from the boys were delivered to their loved ones who waited outside the cave for their news. Ekapol’s message carried an apology to all the boys’ families for exposing them to this predicament. Divers had delivered food, water, blanket and medicine to the trapped boys. More than 100 shafts were drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach the group, but still could not reach their location. By 7th July rescuers had been able to establish a line to pump fresh air & withdrew non essential workers to preserve oxygen level inside the cave.

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On 8th July, 18 rescue divers went inside the Tham Luang cave to accompany some of the boys to safety. After a nail biting wait for 6 hours the first boy emerged with the help of a diver, about 2 hours later 3 more emerged from the cave along with divers. All 4 boys were rushed to the 8th floor of Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in separate ambulances. They were kept in an isolated wards and had undergone blood, lung X-rays and urine tests. One of the concerns was refeeding syndrome, which is caused when people start eating after a period of malnourishment which can be fatal. Other serious concerns are some serious infections like leptospirosis and melioidosis, the boys are monitored round the clock, parents are made to stay away from their kids. The boys are happy and hungry, On July 9th another 4 kids were rescued and transported to the hospital. 

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On 10th July, Cave rescue mission started at 10 am local time. The youngest boy of the team, Chanin was still inside the cave along with his coach & 3 others. Within 5 hours all the boys and their coach Ekapol came out one by one, starting with Chanin. Reports claimed that some were sedated and brought out on stretchers. They have flown to the hospital in a Helicopter where they would recuperate. Whether or not the team makes it to the World Cup Finals as promised by the FIFA needs to be seen.  Meanwhile in the hospital, some of the boys have developed irregularities in their lungs, may be they have pneumonia. All the boys are wearing sunglasses as a precaution after spending more than 2 weeks in total darkness.

We may never hear about some people who volunteered selflessly in this rescue mission. One such group are the farmers of the village of Chiang Rai. They let the flood water to be pumped out into their fields. For them, the team mattered first, rice can be regrown. Another such selfless volunteers are the Bird nest collectors, they volunteered to look for air holes in the caves that could lead to the trapped team. They were the first to ‘hear’ knocking sounds on the cave walls a day before the team was found. Another selfless volunteer is Pream Rawinmart Luelert, she collected clothes of the rescue workers at the end of each day, cleaned them and returned them next day early morning. She and her team even stitched the clothes when needed.

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I have updated this article as the rescue progressed. In the dark, muddy and narrow caves a diver with a weak and a terrified boy and 10% visibility, the weight of the gears and murky water, the divers needed immense courage and will. Every man or boy who emerged from the Tham Luang caves alive will be and IS a hero. This entire episode is a testament to the indomitable human spirit that say ‘never give up’. 

The Man Who Dared – Barun Biswas

5th July 2012.

Sutia, a small village in Gobardanga, West Bengal was Syria; no, not destruction wise but molestation wise. Sutia was Sushanta Choudhury’s personal fiefdom. Starting from extortion to molestation Sushanta & his gang of 70 (Kargil Party) kept the locals cowering in silence. Protesting meant women folk of the family would be molested & gang-raped in front of their male family members. In some cases there would be repeated assault of the same woman. It was an unwritten rule. While the villagers were too scared to report, the police was either not interested or too busy to be disturbed. This was going on since 2000, with apparent support of the local politico.

While the official numbers of molestation was just 33 & murders was a dozen, locals knew that 33 was actually 114. But the perpetual fear that they lived under was gathering courage to speak up.  At one point of time Sushanta & some of his gang-men were imprisoned due to a hassle with a builder. Few men with spine built up a Sutia Gonodhorshon Pratibad Manch, 27th July, 2002.

In the 1st meeting at a crowded Sutia Bazar, when no one had decided what to say, a lone voice arose. He roared আমরা যদি নিজেদের মামেয়েবোনেদের সম্মান রক্ষা করতে না পারি তাহলে সভ্যসমাজে থাকার যোগ্য নই আমরা। ধর্ষকদের মুখোমুখী হওয়ার সাহস না থাকলে তাদের চেয়েও বেশি শাস্তি হওয়া উচিত আমাদের।(If we lack the courage to take on the molesters, we deserve more severe punishment than they do). He knew the apparently spineless people will arise only when the Sushanta gang can be challenged in public. He declared war on the gang, not by guns but by making the system work. He knew this meant going all the local’s houses, convincing the victims to lodge complain against the culprits collecting evidence, assuring witnesses to testify in court, pushing the police & administration to wake up from slumber & act. His name was Barun Biswas.

Barun had cleared WBCS & SSC simultaneously but he chose to be a teacher of Mitra Institute Kolkata. His parents migrated from Faridpur, BD after 1971. His father was a daily labour. In 2000 Barun had started a campaign to save Ichamati River. He also a had a karate blackbelt & martial arts expert. Deadly combination.

Barun’s roar shook the fort of the gang. The police was forced to arrest 5 of the gang men. Barun is said to have handed over a copy of RamKrishna Kathamrita to the kingpin Sushanta and said জেলে বসে পড়িস।” (read in jail) in 2004.

Barun not only brought justice but also helped rehabilitate the victims, helped poor kids to study, gave money to buy medicines, coached job seekers. His salary was spent in helping the needy. He was the beloved ‘Mastarmoshai’ of Sutia. He also remained unmarried for he did not want to include his family with his activities.

But he knew his days were numbered. On 5th July 2012, he was returning from Kolkata, as he alighted from the train in Gobardanga station, a student of class X of Sushanta gang shot him, first at his back then at his chest.

The gang had thought to silence the Pratibadi Manch by killing Barun, but people of Sutia had had enough. His death brought them out of their homes, including women, armed with bamboos & brooms, they attacked the Sutia Police station at early morning. The mob blocked Gobardanga highway & demanded to arrest all the accused 11 of Sushanta’s gangmen who were roaming free. The police had to yield to their demands. 40k ppl attended Barun’s funeral. Police have arrested the 11 gangmen and also the killers of Barun : Sumanta Debnath, alias Fotke, Debashish Sarkar, Bishwajit Biswas, and Raju Sarkar.

 Sutia after a long time found its voice back. But how many Barun do we have to sacrifice for our girls? 

किस रावण की चिता सजाऊँ

किस रावण को आग लगाऊँ

जन जन रावण जन जन लंका

इतने राम में कहाँ से लाऊँ

इतने बरुन में कहाँ से लाऊँ

PS 1: Allegations of misappropriation of funds halted the project on Ichamati River canal in February 2012 by the intervention of irrigation minister Manas Bhuiyan. This had angered some of the local population. Incidentally Barun was murdered 4 months later.

PS 2: A Bengali movie based on Barun life and work, Proloy, featured Parambrata Chatterjee as the main protagonist.

Mahasamadhi of Swami Vivekananda

20th of Asharh, 1309/4th of July, 1902

The day America was celebrating it’s Independence Day. It was the day a great soul would pass away into Mahasamadhi. Swami Vivekananda, a spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power who crammed immense labor and achievement into his short life. He obtained Mahasamadhi at 9:10pm at the age of 39 years and 5 months. fulfilling his own prophecy “I shall not live to be 40 years old”.

Just 3 days before his Mahasamadhi, Swami pointed out to his disciple Swami Premananda, a particular spot on Belur Math grounds where he wished his body to be cremated and  said “A great tapasya and meditation has come upon me, and I am making ready for death.”

Next day, Wednesday, he observed Ekadashi. After fasting, Swamiji had some fruits and vegetables, he poured water over hands & dried them with a towel. When his disciples protested he said ‘Jesus washed the feet of his disciples’, someone checked the answer & muttered ‘But that was the last time’… his words were left unuttered.

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On the supreme day, Friday, Swamiji spent 3 hrs in formal meditation. Later he whispered, ‘If there were another Vivekananda, then he would have understood what this Vivekananda has done! And yet how many Vivekanandas shall be born in time!’ Swamiji asked his disciple Suddhananda to read a passage from the Yajurveda with the commentary of a well-known expositor. The Swami said that he did not agree with the commentator and exhorted the disciple to give a new interpretation of the Vedic texts.

He had his lunch with members of Math though he usually ate alone due to his illness. Then he taught Sanskrit grammer to the bramhacharis for 3 hrs. Later he walked for 2 miles with Swami Premamnanda within the Math grounds, discussing about a Vedic College setup in the Matha.On being asked ‘Why a Vedic college’, Swamiji replied “to kill superstition”.

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On his return Swamiji enquired about each member of the Math, discussed with them on the Rise & Fall of Nations.

‘India is immortal, if she persists in her search for God, but if she goes in for politics & social conflict, she will die’, he said.

At 7 pm he went to his room & asked his attendant he was not to be disturbed. After an hour of Dhyana & Japa, he called his disciples to open all windows & fan his head. He laid down quietly. an hour later his hands trembled a little and he breathed heavily twice in a couple of minutes. His eyes became fixed in the centre of his eyebrows and with a divine expression the eternal silence fell.

‘There was,’ said a brother disciple of the Swamiji, ‘a little blood in his nostrils, about his mouth, and in his eyes.’ According to the Yoga scriptures, the life-breath of an illumined yogi passes out through the opening on the top of the head, causing the blood to flow in the nostrils and the mouth. The brother disciples thought that he might have fallen into samadhi, and chanted the Master’s name to bring back his consciousness. But he remained on his back motionless.The doctors were sent for & after a thorough examination the doctor opined ‘life was only suspended’ and artificial respiration was tried. At midnight he was pronounced dead by apoplexy or sudden failure of the heart.

The moment was there that had been foretold by his Master from the beginning. at 9:10pm on the wings of that meditation, his spirit soared whence there could be no return, and the body was left, like a folded vestiture, on the earth. This is the Nirvikalpa Samadhi that his guru Ramakrishna Paramahansa told him about… “This is your mango, Look! I lock it in my box. You shall taste it once more, when your work in finished.” and he waited for he knew that his time was near for he said this.

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For centuries to come people everywhere will be inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s message,’O man! first realize that you are one with Brahman- aham Brahmasmi & then realize that the whole universe is verily the same Brahman — Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma.’