AL activists demolish Old Dhaka heritage ‘Jahaj Bari’

Staff Correspondent | Published at 01:34am on June 08, 2019

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People look at debris of ship-shaped building ‘Jahaj Bari’ at Chawkbazar in Dhaka most part of which was demolished allegedly by Awami League activists Wednesday evening. The photo was taken Friday. — New Age photo

The most part of ship-shaped building ‘Jahaj Bari’ at Chawkbazar in Dhaka having heritage value was demolished allegedly by local Awami League activists Wednesday evening defying a 2018 High Court order not to demolish any ancient building having archaeological value in the areas.

Local people said that the supporters of ruling Awami League lawmaker Haji Mohammad Salim came to the building with bulldozers at the night of Eid-ul-Fitr on Wednesday and began to demolish the three-storey building cordoning the area.

They said that the local people and businesspeople of the area became agitated as Salim’s supporters began to demolish the building established in mid nineteenth century and considered to be the first commercial building in the area.

Urban Study Group chief executive Taimur Islam told New Age on Friday that the High Court in August 2018, responding to the group’s writ petition, ordered that 2,200 buildings in the Old Town of Dhaka, having archaeological values, must not be destructed, modified and extended.

‘Jahaj Bari is on the list of 2,200 buildings,’ he said, adding that it was a Waqf property and that the Motwalli was not in the country on the day of demolition.

He said that the demolishers came to the site with three bulldozers, cordoned the area and began to demolish it taking the chance of Eid holidays and night.

Taimur said that the demolish activities began even after he lodged a general diary with Chawakbazar in March and again lodged a general diary with the same police station on Thursday.

‘One storey was remaining to demolish on Thursday but today we found that the ground floor was also demolished. That means the demolishing activities continued Thursday night,’ he said.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner for Chawkbazar zone Md Sirajul Islam said that the Chawkbazar police station officer-in-charge informed him that the supporters of Haji Salim had come to Jahaj Bari to demolish it.

He said that he was informed that Haji Salim had bought the building and that the building was not on the list of the buildings that could not be demolished.

A Chawkbazar police station official said that the police stopped the demolition of the building.

Most of the part of the building was, however, demolished, on the said.

Haji Salim could not be reached for comments on the issue. He also did not respond to a text message from New Age.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi at a briefing at the party central office criticised the government over the demolition of the heritage building ‘Jahaj Bari’ by ruling party activists.

‘The incident has manifested that Awami League has turned into a grabbers’ party,’ he alleged.