Preserve Brajo Niketan as a heritage site
It is heartening to hear of the recovery of Brajo Niketan, a palatial residence of a British-era zamindar, from the clutches of local influentials who had been occupying it since the original owners moved to India during Partition. The structure itself is a magnificent architectural relic of a bygone era that deserves to be preserved as such. We congratulate the local authorities for finally recovering it, which stands on 1.55 acres of land in the Kalakopa area of Nawabganj, Dhaka. We are also delighted to learn that the process to declare it as a heritage site through the cultural affairs ministry has already been initiated.
Now that it is in safe hands, it is reasonable to remind the authorities of the importance of preserving the structure properly. Bangladesh's records in this regard are not exactly uplifting. On the contrary, concerns have been raised frequently about the state of many heritage sites that are at risk of either falling into ruins because of neglect or getting occupied/destroyed by private entities. For Brajo Niketan, which had been in use all this time, the challenge came in the form of some modifications to its original design. Going forward, unless preserved properly, it too may suffer the fate of those at-risk sites spread around the country. We call upon the authorities to make sure this does not happen.
The first priority, of course, is to get it officially recognised as a heritage site, which will give it some institutional protection against future encroachment attempts. Appropriate preservation is also vital, which includes restoring the building to its original design and developing the area as a tourist spot so that it can fund its own upkeep and people can learn about its historical significance. Apart from Brajo Niketan, there are several historical structures in the neighbourhood that also deserve to be preserved. Once these sites have been taken care of, the authorities can declare the whole area as a "heritage village".
It must be noted that this nation is built upon hundreds of years of history, and heritage sites like these give us a glimpse into that history. As such, properly preserving them is also important for posterity. Unfortunately, we see the opposite of that happening across the country. Just like Brajo Niketan, many palaces, temples, and structures of historical significance are being taken over by vested quarters, especially when these properties are abandoned or considered "vested". Given that, the recovery of Brajo Niketan should be seen as but a first step in freeing all historical sites from illegal occupation and preserving them.
The government should also conduct a survey of all historical sites currently under occupation or at risk of being damaged because of the neglect of relevant departments. This should give it an idea of the gravity of the challenge we are facing and prepare accordingly.