A section of Jorasanko Thakurbari, the ancestral home of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, has been illegally remodelled into the office of Trinamool Shikshabandhu Samiti.
The walls of the Maharshi Bhawan, which has been witness to the Bengali renaissance, have been painted green in colour. The shade of doors and window panes, not to forget the flooring, have also been tampered with by the worker’s wing of the ruling party.
It is believed that Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the lyricist of the Indian National song ‘Vande Mataram,’ and Tagore met for the first time in the said room. Today, the same walls are ‘adorned’ with two mammoth-size images of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
A small portrait of Rabindranath Tagore is placed between the two pictures of the TMC politicians. The room was been remodelled despite the categorisation of the Maharshi Bhawan as a ‘Grade 1 Heritage’ building.
The contentious move was however defended by the unit President of Trinamool Shikshabandhu Samiti, Subodh Dutta Chowdhury. While speaking to Anandabazar Patrika, he claimed, “We just wanted a place to sit for our members.”
“I have written permission from the secretary of the university. No additional construction was done. The room was just cleaned,” he alleged. Chowdhury further claimed that the Maharshi Bhawan was also used as a Union office during the reign of the Left parties in West Bengal.
Chowdhury defended, “Rabindranath is above our head, Mamata is in our heart.” According to the officials of the university, the campus maintenance contractor was coerced into remodelling the Maharshi Bhawan by Trinamool Shikshabandhu Samiti.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the Calcutta High Court by a petitioner named Swadesh Majumdar, through his lawyer Sreejeev Chakraborty.
“The room in which Rabindranath Tagore and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay interacted for the first time has been remodelled completely. Now pictures of Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee are hanging on the wall,” the PIL read.
The Maharshi Bhawan is the part of the building where Rabindranath spent his childhood. It has been illegally occupied by an office of the varsity’s workers’ wing run by the ruling Trinamool Congress,” it further added.
The matter came up before a Division Bench of Justice R Bharadwaj and Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava. The Calcutta High Court directed the administration of Rabindra Bharati University and the West Bengal government to protect the heritage building from being tampered.
Following the directions of the court, TV9 Bangla informed that the banner of ‘Trinamool Shikshabandhu Samiti’ Has been removed. However, the congregation of party-affiliated workers did not stop despite the High Court’s order.
While speaking about the matter, Vice-Chancellor of the Rabindra Bharati University, Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chowdhury, denied granting any permission for construction work.
He said, “The act (by Trinamool Shikshabandhu Samiti) is highly condemnable. Now, the HC has intervened. We noticed this two-three months ago. I tried to stop this, but I was told the people who could be involved were the supporters of the ruling party.”
Chowdhury lamented that despite directions to the contrary, nothing was done owing to political pressure. “Several officials and I were under pressure. It was difficult for us to work,” he conceded.
BJP leader Agnimitra Paul has hit out at the ruling dispensation in the State. “Mamata Banerjee’s workers have not only created an office in Jorasanko Thakurbari but also changed the colour of the wall, broke the rooms & hung pictures of CM,” she tweeted.
“How can you touch a Heritage Building mam? Kobi Guru (Rabindranath Tagore) is our sentiment, love, life. Do not dare play with it!!!” she further cautioned.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty remarked, “All this is being carried out with the help of Nabanna (State Secretariat). TMC is scared as people are against their move.”
Interestingly, the ruling Trinamool Congress has cried foul and claimed that it has no association with the Shikshabandhu Samiti.
TMC legislator Santanu Sen claimed, “Our party doesn’t have any association with any organisation named Sara Bangla Trinamool Sikha Bandhu Samiti. Our party will take the necessary action against it.”
This is despite the fact that India Today was able to access a letterhead of ‘Sara Bangla Trinamool Sikha Bandhu Samiti’, which bore the image of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
(This piece is taken with gratitude from the OpIndia)