RAJSHAHI, Sept 01: Dutch establishment 'Boro Kuthi', the ancient-most building of Rajshahi, is virtually turning into a community centre as local people are free to use the historical site for their personal purposes.
An incident of holding a wedding ceremony inside the Boro Kuthi building on Friday has evoked criticism about rightful maintenance of the historically important structure.
All activities including cooking, serving of meals and other formalities of wedding was performed inside the building to the unawareness of the local administration.
It is learnt, only two people engaged to supervise the building give permission for arranging such functions inside the building.
At the entrance to the building, a signboard hung by the Department of Archeology reads, "Preserved Archeological Site" with a warning that destruction, damage or deformation of the structure or writing or even drawing anything anywhere of it will carry punishments like fine or one year jail term or both under the section 19 of Number-14 Archeology rule of 1968.
But, in defiance of the rules, wedding ceremony of Mimi Khatun, daughter of Alam of Terokhadia, was held there with the help of two employees.
The wedding gate was erected in front of the entrance to the building.
Meals of the function were cooked by setting an open furnace near the west wall of the building and at the east side, utensils were cleaned and, abandoned foods were dumped there.
Inside the main building, sitting arrangement was made for the bride and the meal was served by placing chairs and tables at the library room.
The cooked foods were also kept at a room called ' Tas( card) room' and another room was used for the bridegroom's sitting.
According to sources, at the first leg of the 18th century, Dutch businessmen started to trade in silk and other materials in Rajshahi.
They built the Boro Kuthi at a time in the middle of 18th century.
At first, the building was known as Dutch Factory to the local businessmen which later took the name Boro Kuthi.
It is assumed, when Boro Kuthi was established, there was no such large building anywhere in Rajshahi.
In 1951, Boro Kuthi was turned into a government property and in 1954 the building was handed over to Rajshahi University.
The building was then used as the office and residence of the vice-chancellor of RU.
Apart, now under the maintenance of Rajshahi University, Boro Kuthi is also being used as a club of teachers and officials of the university.
Recently, the RU authorities have decided to hand over Boro Kuthi under the Ministry of Culture but it is still under process.
Golam Mortuza Chandu, a guard of Boro Kuthi, stays with his family in two rooms at ground floor of the building.
A 'sports room' of the building is used as his drawing room.
Bablu, a peon of RU, who is also in charge of maintenance of the historical site lives with his family outside the building.
These two employees allegedly allow arranging wedding ceremony inside the Boro Kuthia building without the knowledge of the RU authorities.
Golam Mortuza in this regard said such functions are held frequently at Boro Kuthi. The fees that are collected from holding such functions are deposited to the fund of the club. There is nothing illegal in it, said Mortuza.
Nahid Sultana, regional director of the Department of Archeology, Rajshahi and Rangpur regions, said it is unlawful to allow arranging any personal or social functions inside such an ancient establishment.
He further said she would enquire into the allegations of arranging wedding ceremonies at the building and would take necessary actions.
MA Bari, registrar of RU, said decision has been taken to hand over the building to the Ministry of Culture and a signboard has been hung by the Department of Archeology at the building site.
The district administration is also responsible for supervising the building.
Hamidul Haque, deputy commissioner of Rajshahi, said since the building is still under the maintenance of RU, it is the duty of the university to ensure its security.
Besides, the magnificence of the archeological edifice is disappearing day by day as the authorities are apathetic towards its maintenance and renovation.
Boro Kuthi was supposed to be declared a 'heritage' of the country by the Rajshahi City Corporation five years ago.
Two Dutch archivists had visited the archaeologically important structure and assured the then mayor of RCC of taking necessary steps to renovate and preserve the building situated beside the river Padma.
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