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There is a price for speaking unpleasant truth. There is also always a price for standing up to prejudice and intolerance. Slander is one of those. If my truth and logic cannot be demolished, those have to be attempted to be discredited by insidious character assassination and slander. Such attempts shall not only be responded to with contempt, but every lie shall be categorically demolished. Like I shall do now with one such slanderous allegation right here.

For some time, a ‘Letter to the Editor’ to one of Assam’s premier English dailies, ‘The Sentinel’ bringing some patently false and outrageous allegations against me has become the cause célèbre for a certain kind of twitterati – they are almost always anonymous (using assumed handles which are not real identities); they prostrate before a certain ‘God’ who hopes to be PM; they consistently bait Muslims; and among their other more laudable traits are threat of ‘rape’ to young Muslim women who would disagree or disregard their rants (Yes, screenshots and urls of those tweets have been meticulously kept ready).

So what is it they are so ecstatic about tweeting to the world against me? Let me quote the entire letter below, word-for-word.

The Sentinel, 3rd August, 2010, Tuesday – Letters to the Editor

About ‘Commendable Initiative’

We offer our sincere thanks to Aiyushman Dutta for his write-up ‘‘Commendable Initiative’’ (The Sentinel, July 24, 2010). Mr Dutta has done a great service for the trust in publicly establishing the existence of ‘‘every single original print of Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya’s short stories published since 1937’’ at one place.

Mr Dutta has not asked as to how the same were collected by Nilim Dutta of the so-called Strategic Research and Analysis Organization in his “Commendable Initiative”.

It should now be known to one and all that the said collection was an act of fraud by Nilim Dutta, who had approached Srimati Binita Bhattacharyya, wife of Late Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya, with a written request for permission to publish a collection of short stories. He visited her house with a laptop and a scanner on several occasions. He listed the said short stories and lifted them all to be taken home for digitalization. These were never returned. His collections included said photographs, letters et al, including many important documents which probably we do not know. Then he came up with an agreement and offered a sum of Rs 20,000 as advance payment.

Smti Bhattacharyya in all good faith wanted to accept his proposal. The cheque bounced with the bank’s comment — “funds insufficient”. These were before the Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya Memorial Trust came into being.

Smti Bhattacharyya intimated her decision to cancel the agreement by a registered post communication of January 20, 2008 and asked him to contact the Trust only, if so desired, for the intended publication. The letter came back with the postal remark — ‘‘not known’’. Nilim Dutta never showed his face to Smti Bhattacharyya thereafter, and now as Aiyushman Dutta has revealed, gloats over his ‘‘commendable initiative’’.

We thank Aiyushman Dutta for giving the trust a handle to make a move either with police help or through the appropriate legal authority. We possess the initial letters and copies of the said agreement along with the bounced cheque, if Aiyushman Dutta would like to go through them and see how the “commendable initiative” he has highlighted is fraught with blatant fraud.

Dr Dipankar Bhattacharyya,

Secretary,

Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya Memorial Trust, Guwahati.

Click this here to go to The Sentinel webpage.  

So, what is the truth behind these allegations?

Before I demolish them as entirely fabricated and malicious lies, let me give a small background which would add more perspective.

Dr. Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya was one of the most eminent Indian authors who have left Assamese literature immeasurably enriched. Most know him for his novels ‘Yaruingam’ (for which he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for 1961) and ‘Mrityunjay’ (for which he was awarded the Janapith Award in 1979). But his literary and intellectual legacy is vast, in fiction, non-fiction and verses and must be discussed some other time. He was also a prolific writer of Assamese short stories. Even though he had passed away in 1997, even now, fifteen years later, a single anthology which included the entire body of short stories he had written had been published.

It was, however, in 2006 that I received a proposal, through intermediaries, to consider publishing such an anthology. After initial discussions, I sent late Dr. Bhattacharyya’s wife, Smti. Binita Bhattacharyya a draft proposal which she approved. Accordingly, a copyright license agreement was signed with her 27th July, 2007. Problem however arose immediately as there was not even a complete list of short stories, let alone the content of all of them. More over, questions of whether she actually owns copyrights of those arose immediately as most of the stories which we were given were actually published in a pathbreaking magazine (Ramdhenu) in which Dr. Bhattacharyya was employed as an Editor, hence copyright for his stories belonging to the publisher/owner of the magazine. To cut a long story short, the agreement never came into force. Instead, we had to begin searching for the stories. As we searched, we realized that late Dr. Bhattacharyya’s family possessed only a fraction of what he had written during his lifetime. Even valuable documents, like citations, were decomposing. Partially out of concern for the preservation of this rich literary heritage, and partially out of respect for Smti. Binita Bhattacharyya’s insistence, we indexed and digitized some of the valuable documents, original prints etc in her possession in-situ completely at our own expense. Only a few large ones which couldn’t be digitized there were taken away from her, with due receipts, and again returned. Naturally, as per procedure, we obtained signed receipts from her when such material was safely returned to her.

On the 14th of October, 2007, on late Dr. Bhattacharyya’s 83rd birth anniversary, Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation made a public announcement of it’s efforts at preserving his literary legacy. The function was attended by many literary stalwarts of the state and we were greatly applauded for the initiative. Significantly, the function was presided over by late Dr. Bhattacharyya’s elder brother, Shri Nalinidhar Bhattacharyya, another eminent poet as well as by eminent author Shri Atulananda Goswami and Journalists Radhikamohan Bhagawati. I mention their names because they are trustees of Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya Memorial Trust. Also present were all family members of late Dr. Bhattacharyya. Surprisingly, none had any complaints about what we were doing. Instead, we were appreciated for the effort.

There was one person who was too busy to attend this function. That person was Dr. Dipankar Bhattacharyya. He is late Dr. Bhattacharyya’s eldest son.

The anthology never materialized because of copyright entanglements.

Let me now come to Dipankar Bhattacharyya’s allegations.

Dipankar Bhattacharyya’s allegation:

Then he came up with an agreement and offered a sum of Rs 20,000 as advance payment.

Smti Bhattacharyya in all good faith wanted to accept his proposal. The cheque bounced with the bank’s comment — “funds insufficient”. These were before the Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya Memorial Trust came into being.

My rebuttal:

The agreement, as explained above, never became operational because Smti. Bhattacharyya couldn’t provide the full list of stories, nor could she prove ownership of copyright of all the stroies. It was indeed incumbent upon Smti. Bhattacharyya, to return the cheque. Could Dipankar Bhattacharyya explain why were they trying to fraudulently sell copyright of matter they didn’t own? And when the agreement fell through, why wasn’t the cheque returned? (There is a lot more dirty linen that I could wash in public but desist from doing so out of regard for late Dr. Bhattacharyya and Smti. Binita Bhattacharyya)

Dipankar Bhattacharyaa’s allegation:

Smti Bhattacharyya intimated her decision to cancel the agreement by a registered post communication of January 20, 2008 and asked him to contact the Trust only, if so desired, for the intended publication. The letter came back with the postal remark — ‘‘not known’’.

 My rebuttal:

I produce below the copy of the very letter Dipankar Bhattacharyya claims was never delivered to me (inference being, I provided false address) and returned with post mark ‘not known’ received by me on 19th march 2008.

Could Dipankar Bhattacharyya please explain which genie delivered that letter to me?

He of course conveniently fails to mention that he even knew my residence.

Also, to be noted there is no mention of ‘bounced’ cheques in the letter below.

Dipankar Bhattacharyaa’s allegation:

He listed the said short stories and lifted them all to be taken home for digitalization. These were never returned. His collections included said photographs, letters et al, including many important documents which probably we do not know.

Nilim Dutta never showed his face to Smti Bhattacharyya thereafter.

My rebuttal:

On the evening of 23rd March 2008, I paid a visit to Smti. Binita Bhattacharyya once again, accompanied by my mother and sister, when I returned her a few newspaper broadsheets containing articles written by Dr. Bhattacharyya which I had taken away from her as they couldn’t be scanned ‘on-site’. Since all objects and articles that were ever given by Smti. Bhattacharyya to us had thus been returned, I obtained the mandatory receipt of the same wherein she stated –

“I do hereby acknowledge that all articles, including books, documents, photographs etc belonging to late Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya that I had lent to Shri Nilim Dutta of the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation from my own personal collection have been duly returned to me.”

As usual, we chatted over tea and Smti. Bhattacharyya apologized for her inability to return me the cheque because “Dipankar had retained it with him” but promised to have it sent to me later. We are still waiting.

Copy of the signed receipt is provided below.

All of the above rebuttals along with the supporting documents were emailed to the editor of The Sentinel from my official email on 7th August 2010 at 10:22 hours. Strangely, the rebuttal is nowhere to be found on the website now (Is there more to it than meets the eye?).

Dipankar Bhattacharyya acted intemperately. Made patently false allegations to slander. Naturally, whatever the consequences, he shall face those.

At the end, I have only this much to say:

Truth always has the strength to stand on its own.

Lies, however, still remain lies, even if tweeted 24×7 by cowards who don’t even have the courage to tweet using their own names.

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