A Man Who Frees Fish
Satyendranath Boral is also hopeful with the present initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of cleaning Ganga. He suggests one way to clean Ganga is to free fishes, who have the power to eat the waste and thus clean the water
Bengalis’ are known for rasgulla and fish. The intellect of a Bengali is attributed to his/her fish eating habit. But in the city of Kolkata, there is one Bengali who doesn’t eat fishes; rather he frees them in Ganga every week.
You may call him a different Bengali, but for 75 years Satyendranath Boral is a staunch vegetarian and an environmentalist. Satyendranath Boral heads for fish market every Sunday like a true Bengali and also buys fish weighing 3 to 4 kilograms; from there he directly heads to Chandpal Ghat near Kolkata where he frees the fish to the flowing water of Ganga. Satyendranath Boral started this campaign of freeing fish in the year 1980 and probably he is the only voice or activist who campaigns his message of saving fish in his own way. Boral too was a non-vegetarian in his early life but turned to strict vegetarian in his 20’s in 1965.
Talking to Uday India, Satyendranath Boral says that he got a divine message to start this work, which he continued and in the course of time he understood by doing so he is keeping the divine Ganga clean, in this little possible way.
Satyendranath Boral is not just a vegetarian but is a strict disciplinarian. He cooks his own food and never has food anywhere from outside. He says the habit of cooking his own food was developed during his young age, when he vowed to be a strict vegetarian. “Though this was not followed in our family, I broke our family tradition and decided to eat separately at home because I didn’t want to impose my choice on anyone else,” Satyendranath Boral said.
He lives in his ancient ancestral mansion at Bowbazar, in North Kolkata. Satyendranath Boral lives alone, but he is not lonely. In the course of time, he has acquired many well wishers, who on and off support this campaign. But to carry forward this noble cause, his friend’s granddaughter Khusboo Juthani has come forward to support his noble idea. Khusboo, a teacher in a private school, religiously accompanies her Abbu (she fondly calls Satyendranath Boral), every Sunday to free fishes in the Ganga.
Khusboo says, “Initially my grandpa use to bring me here to free fishes, but gradually when I came to know about this noble work, I myself took interest in coming and freeing fishes every Sunday with Abbu. I also made my friends understand the importance and significance of freeing fishes.” Khusboo also plans to continue this work in a more organised way by registering this work as an NGO and involving people for collectively doing this work.
He spends nearly 5000/- every month to free fishes. Although, he doesn’t mind the expenditure that cost for freeing fishes, as he does all this on his own. But he thinks that the government also needs to come forward and support this campaign by involving many people which will contribute to the upkeep of Ganga.
Satyendranath Boral has worked as a successful stock broker at Calcutta Stock Exchange. A bachelor, Boral says: “I have no one after me. I have a little property and some money, which I can spend on buying fishes and freeing them.” He normally buys singi, magur and koi, the tough breeds of fish that will survive after being put back in water because fishes like Katla and Rohu succumb very easily once they are caught.
It is not that his work was never recognised. Satyendranath Boral has been awarded with a special award “Meen Mitra” by the state government in 2003. But people come and go; some recognises his effort some do not. But his single-handed pursuit continues.
Boral is also hopeful with the present initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of cleaning Ganga. He suggests one way to clean Ganga is to free fishes, who have the power to eat the waste and thus clean the water.
Satyendranath Boral not only frees fishes but also feeds local cows, dogs, crows, pigeons and even ants every morning. He is an inspiration for many. In this age of rat race, we have almost forgotten the basic values of life—compassion. His life teaches us that in a country of nearly one and half billion of population, there is someone who cares even for the ants and the fishes.
By Joydeep Dasgupta