At a Gandhi Jayanti celebration in Kolkata on Tuesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the state government will take over Gandhi Bhavan (Hyderi Manzil) and declared it a heritage building.
The event was jointly organised by the state government and Gandhi Smarak Samiti.
“We will preserve Gandhi Bhavan for India and the world. How many people know that Mahatma Gandhi spent the evening of August 15 here at Gandhi Bhavan?…We have allocated Rs 3.5 crore for its preservation and conservation. A new museum will be constructed among other things,’’ Mamata said.
The chief minister also laid the foundation stone of the Mahatma Gandhi Vishwavidyalaya, to come up in Tamluk, East Midnapore, through a remote. “We choose Tamluk as the site for the university we will develop in Mahatma Gandhi’s name because there were just three places in India, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal, which had declared independence even before freedom was attained. The place in West Bengal to do so was Tamluk,’’ she added.
Hyderi Manzil is believed to have belonged to the Dawoodi Bohra community, which travelled from Surat to Bengal for trade. In 1923, the property was bought by a Sheikh Adam and later handed down to his daughter Hoosainabadi Bengali. But when Mahatma Gandhi arrived at Hyderi Manzil on August 12, the property was deserted and in disrepair. The belief is that the family in residence at the time had fled the area — known as Mianbagan at the time, during the horrific Calcutta killings and the subsequent Naokhali riots in 1946.
As violence between Hindus and Muslims in Bengal refused to die down, Gandhi arrived in the state capital on August 9, 1947. But after HS Suhrawady requested him to stay at Hyderi Manzil, because this was where the violence was its harshest, he shifted to Beliaghata on August 12. The violence continued, so Gandhi started an indefinite fast on September 1 and after 73 hours, on September 4, the rioters, both Hindus and Muslims, surrendered their arms to him. One of the rioters, Jugal Chandra Ghosh, acquired the property.
“Mahatma Gandhi sometimes fought his andolans from Gandhi Bhavan…He came to establish peace and stem post-partition rioting. He led his life on the basis of his principles…Politics these days is very different from the politics of Mahatma’s time. These days, it is enough for parties to use social network as their political tool. They think that if you just post a picture on social networks, on Facebook, or give a speech about the Mahatma, it is enough…But we all know that there were certain parties even at the time of the freedom struggle that were reluctant to follow the Mahatma’s principles and did not do so,’’ said Mamata.
“Mahatma Gandhi stood for inclusivity…He was against discrimination…We will carry out a Gandhi awareness campaign for the year which will culminate in to our own Dandi march on October 2 next year. Gandhiji stood for andolans and our party has carried out so many.”
She further said, “Even in our struggle in Singur, we adopted the Mahatma’s principles of the Dandi march….the need of the hour is unity. We need to defeat communalism…divisions that have taken place in the country. Economic hardship is at an all time high, petrol has reached Rs 91 a litre, the prices of diesel and gas have increased and effects of demonetisation are still felt.”