Two sons of Bangla waiting for their pyre!
For last two and half years, the bank of the river Dolancha in Daribhit, West Bengal is hosting the make-shift graves of Tapas Burman and Rajesh Sarkar. Their family and villagers keep an unblinking vigil on these graves as they fear that the police might exhume and burn the remains of the bodies. The villagers have vowed not to cremate the mortal remains of these two boys of their village unless a CBI inquiry is constituted to investigate the fatal incident which took place on September 20, 2018. It's a day whose memories are still the fresh wounds in the heart and mind of the people of Daribhit.
Tapas and Rajesh were the leaders of the agitation which was demanding the appointment of teachers for Bangla language in the Daribhit High School. The agitation was growing with each passing day, because the state government had appointed Urdu language teachers in the school, and astonishingly so, because there wasn't any course on Urdu language in the school. On the other hand, there were no teachers for Bangla language, and in fact, there were no teachers for maths as well. The anger of the students was simmering and they finally came out to protest. It was self-evident that the appointment of Urdu teachers was nothing but an extension of the politics of minority appeasement.
The protests were gaining momentum and the issue got flared up. Finally on September 20 during an agitation rally, the police fired shots on the chest of Rajesh and on the back of Tapas. Both were fatally injured and when they were being carried to the hospital, the mob from nearby Islampur area attacked the vehicle carrying them and eventually they succumbed to the gunshot injuries. This tragic incident shook the conscience of the people of West Bengal.
The student protests erupted across the state and the demand for the CBI inquiry in the Daribhit incident became a big issue. Moreover, the fact that the two students died of police gunshots while demanding appointment of Bengali language teachers came to hurt the very self-respect of Bengali populace. The Bangla language and its culture are sources of pride for a common Bengali, and it is natural for the observers to see the Daribhit incident as a political attempt to suppress the Bangla culture for meeting the vote-bank requirements. The students across West Bengal have demanded to declare September 20 as Bangla language day.
This particular demand can be said to be inspired by historic Bangla language movement against imposition of Urdu in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which saw that Pakistani forces firing on Bengali students on February 21, 1952. Several years later, UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother-Language Day. Tapas and Rajesh have also sacrificed their young lives for their mother language and coincidently the imposed language even in this case is none other than the Urdu. It is the popular opinion among the students and youth that declaring September 20 as Bangla language day can be the only rightful homage to Tapas and Rajesh who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Bangla.
The quantum of solidarity and traction which the Daribhit incident has gathered is doubtlessly indicative of a Bangla assertion against the politics of appeasement being practised by the ruling dispensation of the State. People in Daribhit and nearby areas are seeing this election as a decisive moment. The shrill of police gunshots on September 20, 2018 are still piercing their eardrums and the memories of the day are like thorns in the flesh of their heart. They want justice for their two sons, who are still waiting for their pyre!
The author is a noted columnist and National Joint Organization Secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad