Vol. 5 Num 870 Wed. November 08, 2006  
Star City

Martyred intellectual memorial in shabby state
Lack of maintenance , theft leave the memorial in a sorry state, where public toilets are under the grip of squatters

Irregularities made by site officials have put Rayerbazar Martyred Intellectual Memorial in a lamentable state with the toilets illegally occupied and dirt and filth strewn all over.

The Public Works Department (PWD) has put up a new boundary fencing of iron grill and is implanting other renovation work on the eve of the Martyred Intellectual Day on December 14.

Locals alleged that the work assistant Jahangir Alam, PWD's person in charge of looking after the mausoleum has recently sold an old iron fence as scrap in connivance with the sub-divisional engineer.

"He has also rented out the ladies' toilet of the mausoleum to a family," said one of the locals.

The public toilet at the main entrance to mausoleum is in a sorry state and is strewn with filth and has litter around it.

Following investigation by the Star City, PWD executive engineer Taslim Uddin visited the mausoleum and instantly evicted the illegal occupants from the toilet yesterday.

"I have just returned after evicting the occupants from the toilets and instructed the persons in charge to ensure that the toilets can be used," he said.

"Moreover, a toilet is not supposed to be under lock and key and I cannot understand how the toilets got to this state," he said.

"Contractor Khurshid had taken the scrap iron of the old fence according to a survey report," said Jahangir Alam. "The scrap was auctioned, but I am not aware at what cost, and how much was deposited to the treasury," he added.

Alam further said that Sub-divisional engineer (SDE) Rezaul Islam knew all the details, at this point but he confirmed that they had deposited Tk 9,000 to the government.

"We have made renovations with permission from the Liberation War Affairs ministry and have informed the original architects of the monument about the changes," he said.

"We have locked the male bathroom as outsiders either steal fittings, damage or vandalise the entire premise," the SDE said.

When asked what the 12 security guards were doing, Islam said: "I will not say anything further".

Regarding alleged misappropriations of sales of the old iron fencing, he refused to comment, but the executive engineer said that he would investigate the matter.

Some parts of the old iron fence had already been stolen, and he said that the leftover of the fence was auctioned according to the rule. "The SDE said that they had deposited Tk 11,000 to the treasury, I have not come across any documents in this regard," he said.

Repeated attempts to contact PWD chief engineer for his version of the story proved futile. His personal assistant (PA) Bahauddin identifying himself as Osman, refused to connect the call.

Architecture department's Chief Architect ASM Ismail said that minor modifications or alterations could be made with consent of the department of architecture, but he was not aware if the PWD consulted the department.

Architect Jami-Al-Shafi, one of two architects who designed the mausoleum, said: "The public toilet just at the entry to the mausoleum is in no way consistent with the original design."

"There was no need to have a toilet at the entrance as the toilets designated to the mausoleum were only 20 yards away," he said.

Even a public demonstration following installation of the toilet could not prevent the authorities from building it.

The monument was built to commemorate the martyred intellectuals who were picked up from their residences by collaborators known as Razakars and Al-Badors at the fag end of the Liberation War and brutally murdered.

Jami also said that they proposed a public graveyard in the Haikkar Khal (canal) area.

They also proposed a green belt beyond the boundary so that private buildings in any direction will not mar the actual landscape of the mausoleum.

Shimul, Palash and Krishnachura, all symbolising blood, were recommended in the original design.

The duo architects, Jami and Farid Uddin Ahmed, won three awards for their design of the monument including Institute of Architects, Bangladesh Award, Berger Young Architects Award and JK Cement Saarc Region architectural competition from Delhi.

The competition for design was held in 1993, the work began in 1997 and completed in 1999 initially on a three-acre land.

It was also alleged that anti social elements carry out their criminal activities putting at the stake even the safety of the security guards.

Locals further said that security and maintenance should be handed over either to the Army or Bangladesh Rifles.

The actual monument (above). The dilapidated toilets of the monument (below). Photo: Miriam Kuenzli