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Heritage status cry for Sen house

Cooch Behar, Nov. 19: An organisation demanded that the house, where Keshub Chandra Sen used to stay here, be renovated and it be granted heritage status.

The Heritage Society of Cooch Behar raised the demand while observing the 170th birth anniversary of the Hindu reformist of the 19th century in front of the dilapidated house today.

“The house, named after Sen’s second daughter, Sabitri, was used by him during his visits here. We demand that the edifice be renovated and restored and turned into a museum on the reformer’s life and achievements,” said Dwipen Chanda, the society’s president and veteran educationist. He also highlighted Sen’s contribution to the Bengal renaissance and setting up the Brahmo Samaj.

Today, Sabitri Lodge, as it was known during its heyday, is known by residents of the area as bhoot bungalow. Sabitri Devi was married to Raja Nripendranarayan’s cousin, Gajendranarayan, Sr.

Keshub Sen’s elder daughter, Suniti Devi, was married to Nripendranarayan.

The construction of the two-storied building began in 1886 and took just over a year to complete. Sabitri Devi used to take classes on ethics for young boys and girls. In 1908, she also had opened a school for technical education for women in this house and had earlier created the Band of Hope Society for women to fight against alcohol consumption.

Arupjyoti Majumdar, a member of the society and chronicler of the history of the erstwhile princely state, said after the merger of Cooch Behar with Bengal, the building was handed over to the public works department. “The building was then used as the office of the circle inspector of police (headquarters). From 1998, it was converted into a mess for police officers of the rank of inspectors. However, the building gradually fell into disrepair because of neglect and indifference of the district administration.”

One of the inspectors who lives in the mess, Arabinda Acharya, supported the society’s demand. “The building is called a ghost house and we live here in fear of poisonous snakes and scorpions. It needs renovation badly. I fully endorse their demand,” Acharya said.

Rajarshi Biswas, a teacher of history, recalled the contribution Sen and other Brahmo missionaries had for the district. “There was a new awakening among the people of Cooch Behar during the period and this building should be preserved to retain the history,” he said.

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