September 5, 2015
Bagha Jatin still inspires Bangladesh
By Saibal Sen
KUSTIA (BANGLADESH): Across the Benepole border in Bangladesh, at Kaya, several youngsters waited to felicitate Indujyoti Mukhopadhyay, freedom fighter Bagha Jatin's youngest grandson. Attending an event to commemorate Bagha Jatin's 100 years of martyrdom were thousands -both young and old -who wanted to greet "one of their own".
On September 2, as the convoy headed for Kaya, the attendees craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Indujyoti. Though three central ministers, who were invited to the event, were absent, the Bangladeshi citizens more than made up for it with their enthusiasm.
"For a moment, even I was worried. The ministers couldn't make it and the weather was gloomy. But people flocked the grounds in the thousands. It is a sense of heritage and history, that brought them here. Kustia has always been the land of greats, from Lalan Fakir to Rabindranath Tagore. Bagha Jatin lives on in the hearts of the people of Kaya," Mamun said.
"I am overwhelmed. Bagha Jatin was born here, amidst you. It was his childhood here, which shaped his future," Indujyoti told the rousing crowd.
Not too far from Kaya, a young Jyotindranath fought single-handedly with a Royal Bengal tiger to kill it and earn the nickname Bagha Jatin.
"When I stepped into Bangladesh, I didn't know that Bagha Jatin continues to evoke such enthusiasm among normal people. I al ways say it is imperative for the new generation to understand their own leaders first. In my country, Bagha Jatin's birth and death anniversaries have become ritualistic. The fervour is noticeable only in a few cases. But here we are talking about a person who is considered, by many illustrious freedom fighters, as their mentor and inspiration. Why shouldn't he find a deserving place in textbooks in not only Bengal, but in India? Let not his work and deeds die with our generation," Indujyoti said.
The only dampener in the otherwise picture-perfect script was police escorts. The reason, however, wasn't hard to gauge. Kustia has been the hotbed of religious fanatics for a while. The otherwise lush green affluent landscape, hemmed between the Ganga and Padma, is also home to unregulated madrassas, which, some allege, are the breeding ground for extremists. Fear has stopped the local administration from naming the road leading to Kaya as Bagha Jatin road or the college at his birthplace as Bagha Jatin College.
"Their pro-Pakistan advocacy , their attempts to weaken the secular administration of Sheikh Hasina and usher in a fanatic BNP rule is well known. They will not let go of any opportunity to act as a spoiler. And hence the security arrangements," explained Bangladeshi academic Shahriar Kabir, who, with fellow academic Muntasir Mamun formed the National Committee for Observing Bagha Jatin's 100 years of Martyrdom.
Around the same time, Arindam Mukhopadhyay , the secretary of Kolkata-based Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, began his research on Bagha Jatin's lineage. He too is part of the event in Bangladesh. The celebration will culminate in an elaborate function in Balasore on September 10, the day Bagha Jatin died.
(The author had travelled to Bangladesh on an invitation from Shahriar Kabir , convenor of National Committee for Observing Bagha Jatin's 100 years of Martyrdom)