Bengalis, scattered over two countries and elsewhere, are full of contradictions. They were never a martial race, but were at the forefront of violent struggles to dislodge the British, and later, during the Naxalite movement. Hindus and Muslims lived largely in peace over centuries there, but one of the worst communal riots in history happened in Bengal. Bengalis are often brilliant individually, but are collectively marginalised in most spheres.

This blog is an attempt to understand the people and their mind.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Remembering Binayak

I came across this letter to the editor in the Statesman two days ago. I feel I must share this with you.


In 1969, I went to Vellore for the treatment of our month-old son. The day after our arrival, a group of medical students in the Christian Medical College and Hospital entered the paediatric ward. Among them was a bright young man aged less than 20. He spoke to me in Bengali and said he was Binayak Sen.

At once I felt that I had met a younger brother, more so because my maiden surname is also Sen. During our week’s stay in Vellore, he helped us in every way, even took us for sightseeing.

While walking along the streets in the town, he stood in front of the post office and said, he would send a telegram to his younger brother to wish him on his birthday which fell on that very day, 7 February 1969. One afternoon, as we were packing our bags to leave our hotel for the return journey  to Kolkata, a beaming Binayak had come to see us off. He carried our luggage to the taxi, accompanied us to the railway station and helped us to board the train. I still vividly remember him standing on the railway platform waving us good-bye.

I have known him only for a few days. He is now in the news and I am shocked to learn that he has been sentenced to life imprisonment for sedition. He is a kind-hearted, sympathetic, amiable, polite, soft-spoken and helpful person.

Binayak and sedition, Binayak and life-sentence. I simply cannot co-relate. I am 79 and terribly sad over the news. I hope and pray that everything will move in the right direction very soon and that wonderful person will be hale and hearty and smiling as ever before.

Yours, etc.,

Dipti Dasgupta, Sodepur, 7 January.

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