Satish Debbarma - surely a contender for National Recognition

Biswanath Bhattacharya

March 16, 2023, 12:34:42   

Satish Debbarma - surely a contender for National Recognition

It was 1987. Most of North Tripura – especially the area adjacent to Ambassa, Salema Kamalpur and other places were all infested with the dreaded extremists. Virtually, a parallel Government was running. The Administration has lost its sway over almost the whole of the region. None was away from the bullets of the extremists. 
I was then posted to such a dreaded place. There was no surety that you would not be kidnapped if you go out.

My duty comprised mainly of Border Road Construction project. The name is though Border Road Construction, it was in fact the construction of dwelling huts for the poor tribals mired in abject poverty, 
The site of construction was far away from my quarters- you are to travel more than 20 Kilometres to reach the project site. 

The work was going but not at the desired level of satisfaction.
The implementing officers of the project used to stay two or three nights at the project site with their lives at the mercy of the extremists.

One evening, I heard that one of the implementing officers Satish Debbarma was precariously  ill and if not brought to the nearby hospital would pass away that night itself. He had to be carried from a very distant place -only approachable on foot and that too almost 20 Kilometres away. 
This Satish had gone on my order and therefore, it was my duty to bring him back. Or else the prick of my conscience would haunt me throughout my whole life.
I decided to go but arranging a vehicle up to GREF at Ambassa also proved very difficult. No driver wanted to go. One driver was somehow cajoled to go. But no one was willing to accompany me. Who shall take the risk of life?

One Sachindra Debnath a retired gentleman who once served in the Army agreed to accompany me. He took one full bottle of 3 X RUM along with him and finished the bottle before reaching the GREF point. He was then dead drunk. 

At the GREF point, I arranged for one local boy who agreed to accompany me to the place where Satish was lying fallen ill.

The night was then almost 1 AM. The road is covered with all bushes. The crickets were buzzing, the foxes were howling. A spell of shiver was going into the spine. Death is buried there into death
Hunger strikes on its own last breath
No spine to shiver, no heart talks
At life’s craving poverty mocks We were cutting bushes and were proceeding inch by inch. 

We somehow reached the place by 3 AM but nobody was opening the door taking us to be extremists. This tribal lad ultimately found the house where Satish was lying. We arranged a cot made of bamboo rods and carried Satish to the GREF point. The morning lights were peeping then.
Sachindra Babu, the drunk gentleman had by this time become an added liability. 
But we all three along with the tribal lad reached Ambassa and got Satish admitted into the hospital. 
And thus, the life of Satish was saved. 

After 1988, I met Satish again in 1998. He appeared ever grateful and treated me with the choicest of pork and Godak a special tribal preparation only to be found in heaven.
Satish Debbarmas are rare specimens of valiance- The valiant never taste of death but once, I quote Shakespeare. No legacy is so rich as bravery. Satish is a brave tribal lad, not to be easily found. 
Having said so, violent extremism is a threat to peace and tolerance. It is not enough to counter it; we must prevent it. Because no one is born a violent extremist, but they are made and fuelled. Disarming the process of radicalization must begin with dialogue and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Education is a powerful tool to build learners' resilience to violent extremism and mitigate the drivers of this phenomenon. It helps strengthen their commitment to non-violence and peace, in particular by addressing hateful and violent narratives. This crucial work starts as early as possible, on the benches of schools.

With the earnest effort of Shri Manik Sarkar, the former Chief Minister of Tripura , Shri V. Thulashidas , former Chief Secretary of Tripura the insurgency problem in Tripura has been decimated. The nightmare is over! But thousands of lives have been lost and the entire demographic picture of Tripura has been totally changed. But the Goodwill of the people will definitely will, if not immediately. When you're in the midst of a storm, it's hard to remember that God is always good and glorious and that God's plans will always prevail, even when yours don't.