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Hasina orders evacuation of heritage building for museum

Bangladesh Heritage building to be converted into museum (IANS)

Sumi Khan

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered the evacuation of a 150-year-old heritage building in Chittagong which was once the law chamber of freedom fighter Jatindra Mohan Sengupta and his father advocate Jatra Mohon Sengupta, to be converted into a museum.

Following the Prime Minister's demand, Chittagong district authorities have evacuated the building and installed a signboard with an order issued on 6 January by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh that the site is to be conserved for a museum, Advocate Rana Dasgupta told IANS on Saturday.

Welcoming the move, Dasgupta said it was victory of the movement of the people of Chittagong.

"We are happy that the Prime Minister herself handled this issue with a plan to secure the heritage as a museum. We hope the local administration will accelerate implementing the order," he added.

Since January 5, several sit-in programmes were held in front of the heritage structure urging the government to take steps.

But over the last two weeks, miscreants have stayed at the building and burned the doors, local residents told IANS.

Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindrath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Bose and other the legendary leaders met Jatindra Mohan Sengupta and his father advocate Jatra Mohon Sengupta at their law chamber.

"Anti-British revolutionaries led by 'Master da' Surya Sen in 1930 and afterwards to raid a British arsenal, but we couldn't protect the historical house from the land grabbers for last 50 years," Dasgupta told IANS.

"At last prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself rescued the house, which is partly damaged by the hooligans already."

On January 6, Dasgupta had submitted a memorandum to the administrator of Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) urging the government for necessary steps to turn the house into a museum in order to preserve the memory of anti-British movement heroes.

Officials of CTG district administration deployed law enforcers around the house, complying with a High Court order asking the authority to protect the historically important structure and heritage of Chittagong.

Mohammad Mominur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of CTG district administration, told IANS that he deployed 10 officials of the Armed Police Battalion (APBN), a specialised unit of the Bangladesh Police, to take care of the heritage structure in light of the High Court order.

Earlier in the month, a land grabber named Farid Chowdhury had taken over the heritage house bulldozed and demolished the wood-worked front part with a group of armed hooligans based on a court order.

Following the incident, Dasgupta along with a group of social, cultural and history conservationists tried to stop further demolition.

The hooligans withdrew the bulldozer, but remained there for the last 18 days.

The Cultural Ministry at a meeting held on July 17, 2018, had ordered to the district authority of Chittagong to conserve all the heritage buildings, both Advocate Rana Dasgupta and Mominur told IANS.

Cultural, social and historical building conservationists of Chittagong hailed the move by the district administration urging them to turn the structures into a museum.