This is the story of a common man with a middle class background, who chose to stand up to violence against women in West Bengal.

In a village called Sutia, West Bengal, local goons maintained a diary to keep track of all girls who were entering adulthood.  Their malicious agenda was to rape them in future. These criminals were confronted by a 28-year-old man of average height and built, and no political support. This man took a stand, fought and defeated them at the cost of his Life.

The year was 2000, and the residents of Sutia were living in the shadow of terror. Frequent rapes in the region had left them extremely scared, and they did not have any means to protest against these crimes. A group of criminals led by Sushanta Choudhury would regularly use sexual torture as a weapon to dominate the villagers.  According to official figures, 33 rapes, 12 murders & innumerable cases of extortion had taken place over a period of 2 years. However, there was no uproar on any front be it the police, newspapers or anywhere else. Political inclinations ensured complete radio silence. Anyone who dared to raise a voice were either murdered or had a woman in the family raped in front of them. A young teacher Borun Biswas stood out and declared war against them.

Borun was not born in West Bengal.  His father Baba Jagadish Biswas with his wife Gita Biswas fled from Bangladesh in 1971 with 3 children to 24 Pragana, Acharipara. Borun was born a year later, on 12th Sept 1972. His father did labour work during the day and sang for a living in a theatre in the night, so he could earn enough to educate his children.

Borun and his siblings grew up in poverty. But he still completed his High School studies and attended Gobardanga Hindu College to o his Bengali Hons. He chose to study Bengali despite getting very good marks overall, because jobs were very difficult to come by to young people. Even the head of his school asked him to think twice before opting for Bengali, but Bengali Literature became his companion. In his childhood he couldn’t afford to buy books, so whenever a villager purchased any book, he ran to read it.

After finishing BA Hons, he completed his Masters in Bengali from Kolkata University and did B-Ed from BT College, New Barackpur. Following this, Borun make another tough decision which changed the course of his life.  Despite qualifying in Civil Service exam, he chose teaching as his profession.  He joined Mitra Institution at Sealdah, Kolkata as a teacher, one who is remembered by his students even today for his dedication and hard work towards them.

In aition to being a model teacher to his students, Borun was also a philanthropist. Every morning, poor villagers would gather at his house and he would spend all his salary on helping them. He even gifted the wooden bed which was his was his only possession, to an old lady. After that, he started sleeping on a plastic mat on the floor.

Two rivers called Icchamoti & Jamuna run on either side of Sutia village, which would flood during rainy season every year. Borun led the villagers to hold a protest and urged for development work so that the flooding would stop. He campaigned for building of canals, and unfortunately this led to him making enemies. The brick and sand mafia got after him. Once he was attacked by them and was saved by a villager.

In the meantime, the villagers were living a life in terror, and the women were specially vulnerable. Borun became moral support for rape victims some of who had survived being gang raped by more than 30 men. He would encourage them not to lose hope. Once Borun took a victim’s father on his bike and tried to file FIR against the gang rape of his daughter unsuccessfully.  They were made to run from one police station to another citing jurisdiction and other such excuses.  His stubborn nature did not accept this treatment.  One morning in July 2002, Borun Biswas called a village meeting. He stood & roared “If we can’t protect our daughters, sisters and wives then we shouldn’t be living in a civil society. If we lack the courage to take on rapists, we deserve punishment even harsher than the rapists.”

This was how is all began. His words electrified the crowd. The villagers of Sutia came together an formed Anti-Rape Protibadi Moncha Borun under the leadership of Borun Biswas. The regular Jan Sabha held by them brought change. Women in the village also started joining protests.

On 16th August 2002, people of Sutia organized a convoy of 18 vehicles and deputed 2 SDO, SDPO, OC. Members of the State Women’s Commission also came, and were shocked after talking to the rape victims. At last police had to arrest Sushanta Choudhury and 4 others.

Sushanta was sentenced to life imprisonment. This was not the end of Borun’s efforts.  He kept working for the village along with  teaching, but never joined politics. He remained unmarried despite pressure from his family to do so, as he knew of imminent threat to his life.  He knew it was just a matter of time.

On 5th July 2012, on the way home from school, Borun reached  Gobardanga Railway station where he was shot in his back. He lay there injured for half an hour, but no one came to rescue him. Borun lost his life, and this infuriated Sutia village.  The police station was stormed by hundreds of protesting women, who forced their way inside the police station and went on a rampage.  Thousands of villagers blocked the highway for 10 hours. Around 40000 people gathered in the last procession of Borun. The killers were caught later and confessed that Sushanta Coudhury had given orders to kill Borun.

It has been 11 years since Borun Biswas’s murder and the case is still pending. His mother Gita Devi died in December 2022. Sushanta Choudhury died in jail. In 2013, a movie in Bengali called ‘Proloy’ was made on the life of Borun Biswas.  Words just fall short on how to describe this man.  Was he a mad man? A legend? A saviour?  One thing is clear, Borun was sent with a mission, and he did his level best to fulfill it.

Research of @RahulSeeker

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