Ranchi, April 15: Buried not only under time, but also a rubble of neglect.
The White House in the state capital, once home to founder of Jharkhand Party and torch-bearer of the statehood movement late Jaipal Singh Munda, has been razed to ground to erect a multi-storied apartment.
The sprawling bungalow situated opposite to Yogada Satsang Ashram in Siram Toli Chowk, where the tribal icon lived with his family for nearly 30 years, has now made way for umpteen flats on the premises and about 24 of them are being constructed after the main structure has been demolished by a private builder in the city.
Sources of the Church of North India (CNI) told The Telegraph that the property was purchased by the church from an English lady way back. The building was apparently also used as an army mess during the Second World War.
“The Chhotanagpur Diocese then gave it to Munda on rent. But it originally belongs to the CNI,” a senior CNI official said, adding that they were even locked in a legal duel to retain their property.
Church members claimed that they would have loved to maintain the house as a “heritage” but don’t have the means of doing so after dwindling foreign grants. Besides, imperatives for the church to become financially self-sufficient had also forced R.R.Z. James Terom, former bishop of the Chhotanagpur Diocese, to use the trust’s property for developmental activities.
“The flats are being allotted only to CNI church members. The trust’s by-laws allow for the same and the use of property for developmental activities,” a diocese member claimed.
The move, however, has fuelled resentment amid not only the crusader’s kin but also members of the tribal community. “Objects of historical importance should not be demolished. Else, people tend to forget the contribution of their icon. This is nothing but an effort to erase the name of my father from the annals of the state history,” Jayant Jaipal Singh, son of the tribal icon, said.
Jayant further reminisced how the palatial house was part of the “Jharkhand Oda”, the epicentre of Jharkhand politics till his father passed away in the early 90s.
The house, he added, played host to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1962 and his daughter Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1969.
Ratan Tirkey, vice-president of Jharkhand Janadhikar Party said the move was “one of the biggest blunders” of the church.
“Even valuable portraits and photographs of Jaipal Singh with former Prime Ministers and distinguished visitors were thrown out on the roads. Later, they were taken away by Munda’s heirs,” he said.