Swadhinata Chattar built as memorial to seven Liberation War heroes ruined by encroachers

Swadhinata Chattar or independence square built in Dhaka’s Kachukhet in memory of the seven ‘Bir Shresthas’ (the nation’s most valiant heroes) is in a state of stark decay.

Rifaat Rahmanbdnews24.com
Published : 4 Dec 2015, 08:20 AM
Updated : 4 Dec 2015, 09:55 AM

The square, built 16 years ago, is in a dilapidated condition with makeshift markets, dustbins, posters and a rickshaw van stand obscuring the memorial ground dedicated to the nation’s bravest heroes.

Today, it is a safe haven for drug addicts where vagabonds camp at night.

Locals blame the management for its sorry state. However, the cantonment board, which is responsible for its maintenance, cites a funds crunch for such an utter lack of upkeep.

Bangladesh’s highest military award, the ‘Bir Sreshtha’, was conferred posthumously on seven freedom fighters, who displayed exemplary courage and died fighting on the battlefield during the Liberation War.

A square was built in 1999 detailing their identities and contributions.

A visit to the memorial on Thursday revealed the sorry state it has been in. Only the plaque was visible.

One can hardly recognise the red brick structure, thanks to numerous posters pasted on it. The iron railings on the square’s four sides are rusty and broken in places.

Hawkers have chosen the square to peddle their products.

Inside, there are separate plaques for Bir Shrestha Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir, Bir Shrestha Flight Lt Motiur Rahman, Bir Shrestha Sepoy Mostofa Kamal, Bir Shrestha Sepoy Hamidur Rahman, Bir Shrestha Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf, Bir Shrestha Ruhul Amin, and Bir Shrestha Lance Naik Nur Mohammad Sheikh.

Most of the plaques highlighting the valour of the nation’s most valiant heroes have gone missing.

Locals say a makeshift fish market assembles daily in front of the square and its garbage is dumped inside the memorial square.

A large number of rickshaw van pullers wait for passengers nearby.

Besides, there is a mosque nearby.

Many who come here find it convenient to answer the call of nature in the Swadhinata Chattar surroundings.

“We have a hard time offering prayers due to the stench,” a local resident, Shafiqur Rahman, said before entering the mosque.

Another local, Salah Uddin, said no initiative had been taken to preserve the square, though it was ‘cleaned’ at times.

The Cantonment Board’s Executive Engineer Alam Khan, responsible for the square’s maintenance, acknowledged its deplorable conditions.

He claimed his repair and restoration initiatives were stuck because of a lack of funds.

“For eight years, I’ve failed to get the money sanctioned for repairs,” he said, promptly adding that he would move his higher authorities again.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher