Former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s sister-in-law Ira Basu was found living on the footpath in West Bengal’s Dunlop. Earlier, she worked as a life sciences teacher for 34 years.
Thin with grey hair, a woman in a faded blue nightgown roams the streets of Dunlop in the Barabazar area of the North 24 Paraganas district of West Bengal. She sleeps on the footpath and takes food from the street vendors. She is the sister-in-law of former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. He ran the Bengal government for more than 10 years.
His sister-in-law Ira Basu holds a Ph.D. in virology and can speak both English and Bengali fluently. She was a state-level athlete and used to play table tennis and cricket.
Ira Basu, formerly a life sciences teacher at Priyanath Girls High School in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, is the sister of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s wife Mira. She has been living on the footpath for two years now.
WHO IS IRA BASU?
Ira Basu joined Priyanath Girls High School as a life sciences teacher in 1976. On June 28, 2009, she retired from her job. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was still the West Bengal chief minister.
At the time, she lived in Baranagar and later moved to the Lichu Bagan area in Khardah in West Bengal. But shortly thereafter, she suddenly vanished from this address. Since then, she has been seen on the roads of Dunlop, not very far from Kolkata.
Krishnakali Chanda, the headmistress of Priyanath school, said, “Ira Basu used to teach here. After her retirement, we took the initiative to get her pension and asked her to submit all her papers. But she did not do it and that is why she doesn’t get any pension.”
‘I DON’T WANT VIP IDENTITY’
On Teacher’s Day, that is, September 5 this year, Ira Basu was felicitated by the members of ‘Artyajon’, an organisation in Dunlop. She was garlanded and fed sweets.
On the occasion, she said, “All the teachers still love me and many students remember me. Some of them cry when they hug me.”
Ira Basu had the opportunity to join other schools but she chose to spend 34 years as a teacher at Priyanath Girls High School.
On her relationship with Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s family, she said, “I did not want to take any advantages from him when I started my career as a school teacher. I did it of my own caliber. I don’t want a VIP identity, though many people have got to know about our familial relationship.”
After the news of Ira Basu’s current living conditions went viral on social media, the administration sent an ambulance from Khardah municipality to take her from the Dunlop area to the Baranagar police station on Thursday. She was taken to a hospital in Kolkata for a medical check-up and treatment.
The former teacher, despite age and circumstances, still has strong views on teaching and education as it is practiced today. “I cannot support online classes. Students are facing problems and cannot learn anything practically,” she said.