Dr. Nazrul Islam is a one man mission. An Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1981 batch, Nazrul is currently Director General of Police and holds the post of Additional Director General of Prosecution in the West Bengal Police. Call him an ever alive volcano of energy or a 24 x 7 missionary in the cause of education, all titles fit him. Ever active, ever vigilant, Nazrul has pursued several passions through his life and left none among them from attaining the ultimate fulfilment. But for his whirling red light topped official car, he might be mistaken for an ordinary man as nothing in his looks suggests him to belong to the elite services.
A thoroughly simple man, he is extremely amiable, speaks English with Bengali accent and keeps snobbery at arm’s length. A celebrated author in Bengali literature, Nazrul has 57 books to his credit so far. And few know that he began to fund his ventures in educational field from royalty he received for some of his award-winning books.
While doing all these, he has carried a spotlessly clean career in police. The ones attempting to blemish him with corruption charges have faced the music in the courts and have only ended up elevating his reputation by a few notches. Newspapers are now scared of writing anything unsubstantiated against him even if it comes from the official corridors. In the past, ministers had to eat their words after hurling of wild allegations and the man is never shy of showing the ministers their place and dragging the delinquent ones to the corridors of justice.
Nazrul is founder of a primary school, a high and senior secondary school, a degree college, a teachers’ training college, a polytechnic, a vocational training college and finally an engineering college in Domkal, small town in the educationally most backward district of Murshidabad. All these institutions came up within a span of five years beginning from 1996. Born in Basantapur village of the Muslim dominated Murshidabad district, he had for long nursed a pining for doing something to uplift the masses from the poverty and dire drudgery. And himself being born to an illiterate parents, Nazrul had set the sight on higher echelons within the Government for himself. However, lure of Bengali literature was too powerful to be ignored.
His first book Mangal Path (can be translated as ‘Path of Welfare’) was published in 1995. It was a big hit and lampooned several ministers for being corrupt. It created ripples in the power corridors as it had named several ministers. The Government threatened him with action, but could do nothing as the facts were well documented. In another case, he took the popular Bengali daily Pratidin to court for publishing baseless charges made by a minister. The minister had accused him of using the official car to visit his native village in Murshidabad at weekends. Having maintained a meticulous record for paying for the driver and fuel from his pocket, Nazrul proved in the court that he was well within the perimeters of law in doing so. The Court asked the Government of West Bengal to pay him one rupee towards compensation for making false charges. Pratidin had to publish an apology.
The royalty from Mangal Path i.e., Rs. 1.5 lakh was utilised to set up the primary school under the aegis of Basantapur Education Society at Damkal, 35 kms north of district headquarters Berhampore. Later a few philanthropists came forward to help him with either land or money and more educational institutions came to be set up. Curiously, even while he was engaged in bringing kids to schools, he too was acquiring degree after degrees. Following selection in the IPS in 1981, he acquired an MBA and Ph.D. in literature from Calcutta University. Meanwhile, his novels and short stories began to win wide acclaim in literary circles and he was conferred with Anand Puruskar in 1995, Saratchandra Puruskar in 1999 and Nikhil Puruskar in 2000.
While Nazrul has won wide appreciation in his native district for yeoman service, the West Bengal government had been after him, putting spokes into his wheels and sparing no opportunity to nullify his mission. By framing bizarre rules, the Government has practically ousted him from the managing committee of the Degree College. Local Marxist Party committee has inducted all its members into it. Says Nazrul, ‘The Marxist dispensation has been indifferent to the educational development in Murshidabad and surrounding districts with a preponderant majority of Muslims’. He alleges that degree of bias against the Muslims and Dalits in West Bengal is worse than the one seen in Gujarat under the BJP government.
Quoting Sachar Committee Report, Nazrul says, nine per cent Muslims in Gujarat have more than five per cent Government jobs while Muslims constituting 24 per cent in West Bengal have a measly representation of mere 1.5 per cent. Nazrul says, Murshidabad with 64 per cent Muslim population has a Government primary school for 1,851 persons while in Purulia district there is one Government primary school for 852 persons. ‘Fact is that even the ratio in Purulia is far from being satisfactory. And for Murshidabad to attain parity with Purulia the Government would need opening another 3,716 primary schools, adds Nazrul.
“It is an upper caste dominated Government which under the guise of Marxist ideology rides roughshod over diversity of the populace. Look at the composition of the ministry in the State. There are 15 Brahmins among 43 ministers and nine other ministers belong to Baidya and Kayastha castes. This makes the upper caste representation 55.8 per cent while Muslims who make up nearly quarter of the State’s population, have only five representatives or just about 11.6 per cent. Moreover, they are assigned insignificant portfolios such as horticulture and animal husbandry,” he adds.
Such quotes are rare to come by from in-service Government officers. But Nazrul has not learnt to mince words and nothing baulks him from stating facts provided he has satisfaction of their veracity.
A workaholic, Nazrul knows no rest. Weekends see him travelling to Murshidabad from Kolkata, tending his institutions that stand on an 83-acre campus in this impoverished and riverine district. Determined to see that this backward district joins the mainstream, Nazrul’s institutions have almost 4,000 students today.