Prasenjit Barman, former Rajya Sabha member of the Congress, a political veteran and lawyer of Cooch Behar who was also instrumental in the restoration of the royal palace, died on Wednesday morning.
He was 90.
Barman, who was also a two-time MLA and a prominent social worker of the district, was also known for his efforts to conserve the Rajbanshi language.
He had been under treatment for a while for age-related ailments.
A few days back, his condition deteriorated and he was admitted to the MJN Medical College and Hospital, Cooch Behar. He died at around 6am on Wednesday.
The veteran lawyer was also the first chairman of Rajbanshi Bhasa Academy that was constituted by the Mamata Banerjee government for the conservation and promotion of the Rajbanshi language.
“In Cooch Behar, he was known for being instrumental in the restoration of the palace. By the early 1980s, the palace had turned dilapidated. He was then a member of the Rajya Sabha and it is because of his consistent efforts that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) had acquired the palace and restored it. Prasenjit Barman’s name will always be mentioned in the history of Cooch Behar,” said Debabrata Chaki, a researcher based in Cooch Behar.
A document of questions asked in the Rajya Sabha in 1982 cites a question raised by Barman — who was a member of Cooch Behar Debuttor Trust and Cooch Behar Heritage Committee — that shows his concern for the restoration of the palace.
“The document also shows that in reply to his question, the central government responded, citing that on March 20, 1982, the palace has been notified as a national monument and that the ASI will start its restoration work. It is because of him that the palace stands in grandeur even today,” said a senior citizen of the town.
Cooch Behar district magistrate Pawan Kadyan and royal head priest Hirendra Nath Bhattacharya paid homage to him. Leaders of various political parties also came to his residence to pay their last respect.
“He was a sincere politician, involved in a series of social activities. His demise is a major loss for Cooch Behar,” said former minister and Trinamul leader Rabindranath Ghosh.