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Govt Panchanan card

- Rajbangshi icon focus of govt events & award

Siliguri, Jan. 27: The Bengal government has lined up an array of events and projects to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rajbangshi reformer Thakur Panchanan Barma, the decision coming at a time the community is alleging discrimination and negligence by the administration.

North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today said the government would celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Thakur Panchanan Barma from February 14, 2014, to February 13, 2015.

“A series of cultural and other events can be organised. There are proposals to institute a Thakur Panchanan Barma Memorial Award and bestow it on those who make contributions in different fields,” said the minister.

Sources said there were plans to develop a hamlet in each of the six districts in north Bengal as Panchanan Barma Model Villages and finish the construction of a museum on the reformer at his birthplace, Khalisamari in Cooch Behar. The government has already sanctioned Rs 50 lakh to build the museum.

The sources said there was a proposal to rename Naukaghat More, on Burdwan Road in Siliguri where a statue of Barma had been erected in 2011, as Thakur Panchanan Barma Square. “There is also a plan to name the road leading to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, via the third Mahananda Bridge and Kawakhali from Naukaghat More, as Thakur Panchanan Barma Road,” said a source.

Deb said the proposal had been mooted by “erudite persons” in the region and they would be placed before the chief minister for her approval.

The decision to honour he reformer comes in the midst of a renewed violent movement by the KLO, a militant organisation of Rajbangshis that seeks to carve out a separate state of Kamtapur.

“Sectarian politics is wrecking north Bengal now. Although the government has set up a university in the name of Panchanan Barma and plans to open a Rajbangshi academy, dissatisfaction is brewing among the community members. The Kamtapur Peoples’ Party is fuelling the resentment with a charge that the community is discriminated against when the government is fulfilling the demands of Gorkhas and adivasis,” said an observer.

Chittaranjan Burman, secretary of Thakur Panchanan Smarak Samity, said: “We appreciate the state’s initiative. We have also demanded that the state declare annual holiday on the birthday of Thakur Panchanan Barma that falls on Falgun 6 of Bengali calendar. We hope that the proposals will be approved by the state government.”