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Book to remove wall between Bengalis and jail life of Jyoti Basu

Suraj Sharma translates former prison cop's Nepali novel

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 31.01.23, 04:27 AM
(left to right) Krishna Singh Moktan; Copies of Pachiler Opare; Suraj Sharma

(left to right) Krishna Singh Moktan; Copies of Pachiler Opare; Suraj Sharma

An insider’s story on some of Bengal’s most famous personalities from Jyoti Basu to Charu Majumdar to famous hangman Nata Mullick will soon be available to Bengali readers.

Suraj Sharma, a former journalist in Darjeeling, has translated former inspector general of police (jail) Krishna Singh Moktan’s Nepali novel Jiwan Goretoma (Life’s Path) into Bengali.


“I decided to translate the book because I felt though the work contained much inside information on famous personalities of the Bengali community, the stories are not available in their own language,” said Sharma, who had translated Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s works into Nepali last year.

The title of the Bengali book has been aptly named Pachiler Opare (Across the Wall) as Moktan’s novel is about stories he picked up while serving as a jail official for over four decades.

Moktan started his career with the Jalpaiguri district correctional home in 1964 and retired in 2000 after the state government had given him an extension of 12 years as the inspector-general- of police (jails).

The 2003 book, Jiwan Goretoma, had received the Sahitya Akademy Award in 2006.

Interacting with The Telegraph, Moktan 93, recollected an incident surrounding Naxalite leader Charu Majumdar which had been mentioned in his novel.

“When Charu Majumdar was jailed in 1967, I was posted at the Jalpaiguri correctional home. On the first morning, he asked for some reading materials. I thought he would want some Communist literature but he told me he was a Perry Mason fan and wanted his detective series,” said Moktan.

Mason is a fictional character, an American criminal defence lawyer. Eight-two novels and four short stories feature Mason, the character created by Erle Stanley Gardner.

“I, too, used to read Perry Mason and I managed to hand him one book,” said Moktan.

Many interesting anecdotes about people like the country’s notorious fraudster Natwarlal, who repeatedly duped people, are part of the novel.

“The book also deals with Bengal’s famous hangman Nata Mullick’s first assignment at the correctional home. Overall, it is an interesting read,” said Sharma.

Moktan has fondly remembered the days when Jyoti Basu was jailed along with senior Communist leaders.

“Those who were jailed included famous Communist leaders like Promode Dasgupta, and Ratanlal Brahmin of the (Darjeeling) hills. Jyoti Basu was a man of few words,” said Moktan.

Moktan has 13 works to his credit and they include novels, translations and biographies. Pachiler Opare, published by Virasat Art Publication, is scheduled for release at the Calcutta Book Fair on February 2.

Sharma said: “I want to continue translating books from Nepali into Bengali and vice-versa so that people of both the communities can read good works,” said Sharma.

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