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Reserved, To Preserve!

The Sheikh Hasina Government in Bangladesh has acquired the Chittagong residence of Freedom Fighter Jatindra Mohan Sengupta, with an expressed wish to convert that into a Museum, depicting anti-British Freedom Struggle, and Liberation War. Sengupta was an Indian revolutionary against the British Rule and the leader of Indian National Congress Party…

Jatindra Mohan’s father, Congress leader and eminent Lawyer Jatra Mohan Sengupta had built this house at Rahmatganj in Chittagong. Jatindra Mohan’s wife Edith Ellen Gray (later known as Nellie Sengupta) used to visit the house till 1972. Thereafter, it was listed as Enemy Property! Families were seen dwelling in that house, albeit forcibly; even a portion of the house was utilised as a private kindergarten school. A couple of weeks ago, Farid Chowdhury – a businessman, reportedly hired a bulldozer in order to demolish the house… However, locals, led by Prosecutor of International War Crimes Tribunal Rana Dasgupta, did not allow the land-grabbing businessman to do so! Later, a local court issued a Stay Order on the demolition of the House.

Sengupta’s residence in Chittagong

Soon after issuance of the Order by the Court, a number of social and cultural organisations in Chittagong took to the streets, asking the Government to acquire and to preserve the house. Members of those organisations stressed on the historical importance of the house, stating that it was the symbol of the anti-British Movement in Chittagong. Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel, the Deputy Minister for Education, as well as Barrister Biplob Barua, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, assured the protesters that they would convey their message to the PM.

PM Sheikh Hasina

On January 24, 2021, Prime Minister Hasina ordered for the evacuation of the building, saying that the 150-year-old heritage building would get converted into a Museum. Advocate Dasgupta welcomed the PM’s move, stating: “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 also went on to mention that stalwarts, like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindrath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and other legendary leaders had met Jatindra Mohan Sengupta and his father Advocate Jatra Mohon Sengupta at that very place. “Revolutionaries and Activists, who were predominantly anti-British, have attacked, raided and even looted an arsenal managed by the British, led by Master-da Surjya Sen successfully during their struggle… However, it is seen that in course of time it was being difficult even to protect a house from the land-grabbing agents,” added Dasgupta.

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