The Englishbazar police station
Malda, Aug. 14: On the eve of Independence Day, the Forward Bloc has launched a movement to discard the Raj sobriquet that Englishbazar town has been carrying with it ever since the British left the Indian shores.
The move is gradually gaining support from other parties as well.
“More than 60 years after Independence it is a shame that we should still bear the name that reminds us of the British dominion over India. We do not want to carry this colonial legacy any more,” said Ziaul Hossain, the general secretary of the Bloc’s district unit.
The Bloc is not just making do with petitions. It has launched a full-fledged campaign. On September 5, the party members will gherao the district magistrate’s office and hand over a letter demanding that the name Englishbazar be changed to Gourbanga, Hossain said.
“Our MLA Tajmul Hossain will raise the issue in the next Assembly session. If our demand is not accepted, we will bring down the signboards from the police station, the municipality, post office and other prominent places,” the Bloc leader said. “If we get hold of official documents which bear the word Englishbazar, we will also burn them in public.”
Local historian Kamal Basak said during the rule of the nawabs, the place used to be called Rangrezbazar. “After 1665, the British indigo planters came here and settled down. Most probably the name Englishbazar has been in vogue from then on with some of the residents still calling it ‘Ingrejbazar’.”
According to Basak, the name was not given by the British but by the locals and he saw no reason why it should go. “I do not understand why the Bloc should start such a campaign,” he said.
The district CPM secretary, Jiban Moitra said his party neither supported nor opposed the Bloc demand. “This is a matter of the state and the government should react to this,” Moitra said.
The Congress, however, is split over the issue. Englishbazar MLA Krishnendu Chowdhury said he was not in favour of the change. But municipality chairman Narendranath Tewari said he did not mind a change.
RSP district secretary Gautam Gupta said he was one with the Bloc. “The name Old Malda should also be changed along with this,” he said.