KOLKATA: Old age has not tempered his revolutionary spirit. Freedom fighter Sudhanshu Biswas, 98, is much more than a Padma Shri awardee. Meeting Biswas means reliving the bygone pre-Independence period. Right from trying to gun down a judge in Calcutta to his botched plan of bombing Fort Williams, the nonagenarian has many tales about his fiery avatar as a revolutionary.
Awarded Padma Shri for social work that includes his unique ashrams for orphans in the Sundarbans, Biswas is nonchalant: “Do I need to travel to Delhi for this (Padma Shri)?”
Clad in white dhoti-kurta, Biswas slowly gulped down protein health drink on a chilly winter morning before meeting this correspondent at Ramkrishna Sevashram in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. His day begins at 5 am with meditation. Biswas spends most of his time with 50 orphan boys at his ashram. Spread over 39 acre, the ashram offers courses in sewing, mobile repairing and electrical work besides operating two ambulances for local services. Fish rearing is done at a large pond in the ashram centre.
Any word about revolution and Sri Aurobindo brings out the sparks in him. “This is not the India we fought for. Swami Vivekananda feared Indians might not preserve the meaning of independence.”
Biswas recalls how he trained his gun on the Alipore district judge during the colonial rule. “He rolled down the stairs but a notebook in his pocket saved him.” Later, he was arrested for trying to bomb Fort Williams.
Leaving behind his revolutionary days, Biswas established a factory after Independence. Later, his factory employed East Pakistan refugees who arrived in Bengal to escape atrocities of Pakistani forces. Biswas scoffs at the new age politicians who, he feels, work only for political gains.
Unlike Biswas, ashram members are happy about the award. “We hope it brings at least pucca road to our ashram,” ashram secretary Biswanath Purkait says.
Runs orphanage in Sundarbans