Guwahati: Bhagiram Baruah is 36 years old, an MA in History from Guwahati University and a family man running a tea shop.
He seems an unlikely candidate for a braveheart, the kind that any society will look up to.
Bhagiram's shop is located in Guwahati's Beltola that's now on the national map after last Saturday's violent Adivasi rally and the subsequent mob retaliation. Over a cup of tea just outside his shop he rewinds to that day.
"A lady came running. She was naked. There were photographers behind her. I ran to her. Held her. Told her, do not be afraid, I will save you. I had no time to think. I took off my shirt and put it round her waist. After that I picked up two dupattas that had been left on the streets by women who were running. I put one round her waist and one on the upper part of her body. Then I took her to the police station," says he.
However, Bhagiram also believes that the incident has been blown out of proportion and Adivasis are an inseparable part of Assamese society, something that also is reflected in a photograph that shows an unidentified man risking his life to save another Adivasi woman.
"Be it India, America, Jharkhand or Assam, there are bad people everywhere. Assamese people respect women," says Barman.
Meanwhile, far removed from Guwahati, the tea gardens of Upper Assam remain tense. Though life is moving on, it is hard to believe what happened on the senseless Saturday.
As a protest rally took an ugly turn, one man stood for his city's conscience with an exemplary act that stands out in this cycle of mistrust and violence.