It is a pity that our historical heritage whose physical manifestation is in the many structures and edifices are being destroyed—victims of a combination of ignorance, a lack of sense of history, pride in our heritage and historical legacy, apathy of the relevant agencies, and last but perhaps most important, an unmitigated greed that has overtaken all other considerations.
The media has been crying hoarse to draw the attention of the administration to the need for protecting and preserving these priceless buildings. Nothing more than mere articulation of honest intentions is palpable. A large number of historical sites in Bangladesh have been included in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, and a good many of them are in the capital itself that have been destroyed without any compunction, thanks to the indifference of the authorities. The list of historical sites varies greatly between the one prepared by Rajuk and that by the civil society organisations. We wonder whether the Department of Archaeology has a list of its own, and what that might show in terms of the endangered edifices.
And of course political clout plays a big part in wrecking irreversible damage to history. According to a report in this paper on November 22, the MP of Dhaka-7 has not only abdicated his responsibility as member of the parliament to preserve and protect our relics but played a leading role in their destruction during his long tenure as an elected representative. Haji Selim's beat, once the prime areas of Dhaka City had contained hundreds of antique structures, but no more, because of him. No one knows exactly how many of these sites and buildings have been destroyed over the last few years.
We wonder what the relevant agencies have been doing so long or will be doing to save whatever is left of our antiquities. Have they all surrendered to political power? We wonder if the MP's misdeeds, which include not only the destruction of the old historical buildings but also occupying private and public property illegally, would have ever come to light but for his son's arrest for attempted murder. Whatever has been lost cannot be retrieved, but the administration should wake up and save whatever is left. These are the surviving links with our history whose elegant features enrich our culture. We owe it to our future generations to preserve them, but also to severely punish those who are part of this tragic erasure of our history.