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Sailendra Bhattacharya: Once first Indian FIFA referee, now a betrayed Alzheimer’s patient seeking justice

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By Arnab Mitra

The legendary figure of Indian football, Sailendra Bhattacharya resides near Chandannagar’s Barasat, Hooghly district, West Bengal. He was the first Indian referee to be selected by FIFA for conducting the final match between Iran and Israel in the Asian cup final of 1968 at Amjadiah stadium in Teheran, Iran.

However, all isn’t well with this eminent Indian FIFA referee. He was betrayed by his nephews, who took his property forcefully from him. On top of it, at the age of 86, he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

At present, he is living in a small rented home in Narkeltala area, adjacent to the famous Nandalal temple in Mankundu, Hooghly district, West Bengal.

NewsGram tried to talk to Sailendra Bhattacharya, but he was not in a condition to reply. So to know the story behind his life, we talked to his mate Minati Khan, referee Pradip Bhattacharya, Tarun Bhattacharya who is the headmaster of a local primary school, his brother’s wife Chandita Bhattacharya and his nephew Salil Bhattacharya.

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Arnab Mitra: For how long have you been with Sailendra Bhattacharya?

Minati Khan: I have been working with Sailendra Babu since 2010 after the death of his wife, Meena Bhattacharya.

AM: Did his nephew Salil and Sanjoy Babu misbehave with him?

MK: Sanjoy and Salil tortured him mercilessly. They won’t give him food at proper time, and they forcibly took his property too. 

AM: So why this was not reported to the police?

MK: Due to Alzheimer’s disease he is unable to remember anything. So there is no point in going to the police station as he won’t be able to tell anything. Without his statement, the police won’t take the case seriously.

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Photograph by Madanmohan Samanta

 

Besides Minati Khan, we talked to Sailendra Bhattacharya’s friend – referee Pradip Bhattacharya and headmaster Tarun Bhattacharya. Tarun Bhattacharya looks after Sailen Babu and is fighting against the injustice done to him by his family members.

Arnab Mitra: Pradip Babu, how did you get associated with Sailendra Bhattacharya?

Pradip Bhattacharya: Sailendra Babu is a well-known figure. I got in touch with him in 1997, after he returned back home in Chandannagar from Delhi.

AM: It’s a really long time. So did you notice any abnormality in his behavior at that time?

PB: After the death of his wife in 2005, I noticed some changes in his behavior. But as per his neighbors, the present condition of Sailendra Babu is due to the everyday torture from his nephew.

AM: Do you also believe that his property was taken by his nephew?

PB: It is a well-known fact. Everyone agrees with it. His nephew not only took his property but also his wife’s ornaments. Some say it openly while others chose to remain silent.

AM: If everyone knows then why is the police and municipal chairman not informed about it?

PB: Firstly, there is no point of going to the police as Sailendra Babu doesn’t remember anything. I along with the headmaster, tried to meet the municipal chairman, Jayanta Das several times but our efforts went in vain.

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Photograph by Madanmohan Samanta

 

In a conversation with Tarun Bhattacharya who is the headmaster of Sishu Bitan primary school, NewsGram learnt that he had helped Sailendra Babu in getting his pension and health check up. But he refused to talk, saying that it is a family matter.

To know about Sailendra Bhattacharya, his career and past life, we then talked to the closest person of his life, Chhandita Bhattacharya. She is his brother’s wife.

Arnab Mitra: Who is Sailendra Babu’s biggest inspiration?

Chhandita Bhattacharya: His elder brother Subhod Bhattacharya was also an eminent football player. Due to his encouragement, Sailendra da started his career as a referee in Kolkata league in the year 1949. He had conducted more than 200 matches, both at regional and national levels. He was the only Indian FIFA referee at that time and he conducted the 1968 Asian final match that was played between Iran and Israel.

AM: Can you throw some light on his life, his parents and his schooling?

CB: Sailendra da was born on 22nd July, 1929. His father, Pandit Daityabhanjan Bhattacharya was a school master and his mother, Siddhesari Devi was a house wife. He did his matriculation from Banga Bidyalaya School and inter-mediate from Chandannagar Government College.

AM: How was his relation with his wife?

CB: They made one of the finest couples I have ever seen in my life. His wife, Meena Bhattacharya was a teacher of Bharatiya Bidya Bhaban School in Delhi.

AM: After his retirement from football, where did he work?

CB: He worked in the President House till 1994, and lived with his wife in Rajendar Nagar in New Delhi.

AM: As a family member, can you tell us how all this happened?

CB: Sailendra da has no child, and he loved his nephews as his children. After Meena di passed away, his nephew Sanjoy Bhattacharya forcibly got Sailendra da’s property signed in his name, taking the advantage of his ill-health.

Now, he lives with a pension of only Rs. 7,000.

NewsGram also talked with his nephew, Salil Bhattacharya – the man who is accused of taking the property of his uncle, but he refused to give any statement saying that his elder brother Sanjoy Bhattacharya was responsible for everything. Also, he added that he doesn’t know anything about the property theft.

 

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Photograph by Madanmohan Samanta

 

Through our news portal NewsGram, we appeal to every concerned citizen to help Sailendra Bhattacharya by contacting him on this number 9433629644. Don’t let this injustice happen with him. It’s time to raise your voice with NewsGram.

 

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