Birubala Rabha

The superstition hunter

Birubala Rabha had to go through the agony and torture of watching her mentally challenged young child being branded a witch. Determined to not give up, she decided to fight it. Not only did she win the battle, she also saved other lives during the course.

Not everyone can introduce themselves as a “Nobel Prize nominee”, but Birubala Rabha can! Even then, the accolades to her name aren’t the first things you notice when you see her. It’s her steady eyes - eyes that have refused to stay shut in the face of inhumanity. And it’s her upright posture, one that refuses to bend to medieval mindsets and superstitions.

Living in Assam, a state plagued with the practice of witch-hunting, Birubala had to go through the agony of watching her mentally challenged child being branded as a witch. It spurred in her the will to fight against these evils, relying on the support of local activists, teachers, and other intellectuals to do so.

With her drive, she helped save scores of these “witches”, as they were labeled, from certain death. She spent her days educating the simple folk against superstitions and blind beliefs. And in doing so, she received a fair share of threats to her safety and the safety of her family. But Birubala wasn’t about to back down.She ignored these threats and kept going.

Birubala’s efforts came to be recognised in the form of a Nobel Prize nomination and it all took off from there. With the spotlight now on her, she helped raise awareness, which ultimately led to the constituent assembly passing the ‘Prevention and Protection from witch-hunting’ Act.

And thus, the unwavering belief of one mother helped unravel the blind-faith of many others!

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