It is the month of Chaitra and teams of youngsters and younger adults are out and about dressed as numerous deities. Most distinguished amongst them is Lord Shiva. Charak Puja is simply across the nook. Preparations are in full swing and these Charak teams are actually visiting properties, going door to door to carry out their skits and get rice, oil, honey, sugar, salt in return. The precise puja takes place on Chaitra Sankranti.
The Charak procession passes by, and the street to Kumargram is specified by entrance of us. Kumargram is a constituency within the Alipurduar district of North Bengal. At occasions, the phrase ‘duar’ is added to ‘Kumargram’ as a result of the realm works as a duar to adjoining Bhutan – the door to Bhutan. This peaceable, calm village exterior would not belie the bloody historical past of one of many most dreaded separatist organisations of North Bengal and Assam. The Uttar Haldibari village of Kumargram homes the ancestral dwelling of Jiban Singha.
The ancestral dwelling of Tamir Das, nom de guerre Jiban Singha, in Kumargram in Alipurduar. Photo: Author
But earlier than we get to Jiban Singha, a number of phrases concerning the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) that Jiban Singha is the chief of.
WHAT IS KAMTAPUR LIBERATION ORGANISATION?
KLO is a separatist group that started off when a faction of the Rajbongshi group couldn’t take the neglect of the Kamtapuri language, individuals, and their large-scale alienation. KLO got here into existence on December 28, 1995, when a number of members of the Koch-Rajbongshi group belonging to the All Kamtapur Students Union (AKSU) organised an armed battle for liberation – their demand was separating the Kamtapur nation from the Indian mainland.
At Jiban Singha’s dwelling in Kumargram. Photo: Author
The Kamtapur nation, KLO demanded, embody 6 districts in West Bengal: Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, and Malda; 4 contiguous districts of Assam: Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, and Goalpara; Bihar’s Kishanganj district; and the Jhapa district in Nepal. KLO was initially shaped to deal with grassroots problems with the Rajbongshi individuals. But quickly it took on the type of an armed battle. The KLO was aided in its heydays by Assam’s ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) who additionally needed a route into Bhutan which the district of Alipurduar was good to supply.
The KLO in the present day is most energetic in places like Alipurduar and Siliguri. Jiban Singha is the mysterious, elusive chief of the KLO.
WHO IS/WAS JIBAN SINGHA?
Born Tamir Das, Jiban Singha is the chief of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation. He was doing his Masters in Siliguri when he grew to become a part of the KLO and swiftly rose within the ranks to grow to be the Chief of the organisation. He married Bharati Das, who was the chairperson of the ladies’s wing of KLO. Jiban Singha was arrested in October 1999 however launched by Assam Police quickly after, in an try to make different KLO cadres give up. Jiban Singha regained management of the outfit after he was launched.
Tamir Das’s brother Samir Das. Photo: Author
Tamir’s ancestral dwelling in Kumargram’s Uttar Haldibari in the present day lies in tatters. On the street, there are quite a few saffron flags with the lotus blooming regular on them. Uttar Haldibari borders Assam, and to the North is Bhutan. When we cease at a village retailer and ask them for instructions to the house of Jiban Singha – Tamir – he is nonetheless recognized by his actual identify right here – there is a pregnant silence at first. Then a person factors in the direction of the unpaved street. He additionally says, “That man on the bicycle? He is Tamir’s older brother. He will take you to their home.”
We had anticipated that man on the bicycle to be as secretive about Tamir’s life as common media would count on him to be. But 62-year-old Samir Das is a humble man of the soil. He takes us to the tin home that Tamir grew up in. It is dilapidated now. There are sacks and sacks of betelnuts on the mud verandah. There is a tulsi planted within the courtyard with a number of diyas on the concrete platform.
A properly stands diagonally reverse the home and the tin-door bogs are proper subsequent to it. A pair of geese, white and noticed, break the afternoon silence with their quacks. Once upon a time, the silence at this home was damaged by heavy police boots. Now they’ve stopped coming, says Samir Das.
It was the police who knowledgeable the Das household of Tamir’s spouse Bharati’s loss of life on account of a abdomen ailment. No one knew she had died. So, the police carried out her final rites after which knowledgeable her husband’s household. Back dwelling in Kumargram, the Das household wasn’t even conscious of Tamir’s marriage or the 2 children he had with Bharati. “I last saw him when he was in high school. That was about 30 years ago. Their kids stay with Bharati’s family,” Samir Das tells us.
A STRONG SAFFRON SURGE
Now it is the ballot season and our dialog inevitably strikes to the inevitable query: what is the temper in Uttar Haldibari? Samir Das’s response is fairly nonchalant. “Our boy is contesting the elections on a BJP ticket, after all.” Manoj Oraon is the BJP candidate preventing in opposition to Leos Kujur (ex-BJP) from TMC on this ST (Scheduled Tribe) seat. But this village is nonetheless sympathetic to the Kamtapur trigger. How did the BJP wave attain right here?
Outside Tamir Das’s home, his nephew now works within the betelnut business. Photo: Author
Samir Das tells us the sentiment this election is with the saffron challenger on this village. He has not acquired a job or a penny from the ruling Trinamool authorities as a result of his brother is Jiban Singha. So the place is Jiban Singha now? Does he come dwelling to this Kumargram home? “We don’t know. I have not seen him since he was in high school. Some people say he has died. Some say he is in Bhutan. There are occasional reports that he has escaped to Myanmar and is doing quite well there. But who knows,” says Das.
The thriller of Jiban Singha has endured the check of time however the individuals of Uttar Haldibari usually are not as sort to reminiscence. From dwelling after tin-shed dwelling, younger boys now say the vote right here is for the BJP. This additionally contains Tamir’s personal nephew Abhishek. The boy is 22 years outdated. Dressed in a black T-shirt and bermuda shorts, he is sitting together with his household and neighbours from the village to separate betelnut out of its shell. O Re Grihobashi, Khol Daar Khol performs on his Chinese cell phone as he tells us that this aspect ‘is all BJP’. The BJP has penetrated the house of North Bengal’s most dreaded separatist.
Abhishek’s phrases are in some way paying homage to JP Nadda’s from a recent India Today interview: “The BJP will unify all nationalist forces.” Separatist forces too? Kumargram will reply on May 2.