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Plan for Nazrul archive at home

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 16.02.12, 12:00 AM

Nazrul with son Bulbul in his arms at Grace Cottage. Nazrul’s mother-in-law Giribala Devi (seated in front left) and wife Pramila (right) and Bulbul’s aiah (standing to the poet’s right) can also been seen in the picture

Krishnagar, Feb. 15: Mamata Banerjee plans to set up an archive on Kavi Nazrul Islam at Grace Cottage, a single-storey building in Nadia’s Krishnagar where the poet had lived between 1926 and 1928.

The chief minister has sought a report on the condition of the building from the district administration.

District officials said the government was planning to renovate the house and set up an archive. Nazrul had written some of his famous poems, including Daridro, Phani Manasa, Samyabadi and Puber Hawa, and several songs during his stay in the rented house.

“We are preparing the report the government has sought,” said Abhinav Chandra, the district magistrate.

A senior official said the chief minister had told the Nadia authorities during a meeting in Calcutta last month that Grace Cottage should figure among the tourist spots in the district.

The house is located in one corner of the compound of a sub-station of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL).

“It is in this house that Nazrul’s mother Zahida died. During the British period, there was a power station in the compound,” the official said.

The government has also asked the WBSEDCL to send a report on the condition of the house. “We are preparing the report and will send it soon,” said Siddhartha Roy, the regional manager of the WBSEDCL.

A few months ago, Mamata had announced plans to set up a research centre and an archive on Nazrul at Salt Lake’s Indira Bhavan, a decision that sparked protests by the Congress. The government had then said Indira Bhavan, Jyoti Basu’s home for over two decades, would not be the venue of the proposed centre. The government is yet to announce the new venue.

Sujan, a cultural organisation in Krishnagar that has been demanding for a long time that Grace Cottage be preserved, welcomed the chief minister’s decision to set up an archive at the house. “She is doing what the Left Front government did not do in the past three decades,” said Rabishankar Dutta, a functionary of Sujan.

“We had submitted a proposal to the district magistrate on the poet’s birth anniversary on May 24 demanding that Grace Cottage be renovated, preserved and given heritage status,” he added.

Sanjit Dutta, an amateur historian who has written several books on the history of Nadia, said: “During the early 1920s, Nazrul had actively participated in the freedom movement and encouraged people through his poems to revolt against the British rule.”

Sukhen Biswas, a teacher of Bengali at Kalyani University, said Nazrul had written the novel Mrityu Kshuda besides penning several poems and songs at Grace Cottage.

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