People call it "Boro Maath" because the 25-acre field is the largest of all playgrounds in Dinajpur town.
But crooks were on the prowl to change the geometry of the historic ground, where one of the largest and exquisite Eidgahs in the country is located. Besides, the offices of the deputy commissioner (DC) and the superintendent of police of Dinajpur district are just a stone's throw from the ground.
Taking advantage of a reduced human traffic during the months of Covid-19 lockdown, a contractor firm has encroached on a circular structure, made on almost one-third of the playground.
The structure, made for holding Dinajpur Trade Fair, organised annually by Dinajpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DiCCI), lied abandoned after the event was cut short on March 26 when a lockdown was enforced across the country.
Instead of removing the structure after the fair was cancelled, Monta Decorator, the contractor firm of the fair, started to use the entire area of the fair to rear poultry, cattle and fish. They even built a large water reservoir at the site for their fish farm.
Locals alleged that while the large area of the playground remains occupied by the abandoned structure, the areas around the structure become hotspot for drug addicts and dealers at night.
Sanowar Ali and Rubel Islam, identifying themselves as caretakers of the site, employed by Monta Decorator, barred this correspondent from entering the site when he went there on Monday.
The caretakers, however, admitted that the firm has constructed a large water tank inside the fare site for cultivating fish.
Around 50 cows and over 100 ducks, belonging to locals, were also being reared there, they also claimed.
Jewel Islam, a local, said the structure made for the fair has turned into an eyesore.
He also said that the fair ended seven months ago and the structure should have been removed by now.
Saying that he likes fish, poultry and cattle farming, Montazul Islam, proprietor of Monta Decorator, gave assurance to this correspondent that he would soon relocate his farm.
Mizanur Rahman Patwari, convener of the fair and also a member of DiCCI executive committee, was taken by surprise when this correspondent contacted and raised the issue of the structure that is being used to encroach on Boro Maath.
He said verbal instruction to remove the structure was given to Montazul Islam a long while ago.
When the attention of Mahmudul Alam, the DC of Dinajpur, was drawn on the matter, he said necessary steps in this regard would be taken after consulting with leaders of DiCCI.