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Published in the 1-15 December 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Tipu family graveyard under illegal occupation

After the martyrdom of Tipu Sultan, his family was banished to Kolkata. But the family graveyard is now in the possession of illegal occupants who after digging and levelling the graves have built up houses inside the compound. At one time this graveyard, behind Kalight Tram Depot, was spread over an area of approximately 26 bighas. It also has a small mosque which is in a bad shape today. The graveyard is virtually non-existent today and in the place of graves, houses and shops have come up, roads have been built and a tubewell has also been dug up for supply of water to the illegal occupants. Some houses are double-storeyed and fitted with air-conditioners. As regards the neglected mosque, it has become a haunting site of anti-social elements who play cards or idle away. Two non-Muslim dadas of the locality rule the place. This graveyard of Mysore dynasty owes its destruction and illegal occupation to Trinamool Congress MLA and councillor of the area. Police finds itself helpless in removing the illegal occupants because the land grabbers and occupants enjoy political patronage.

This historical graveyard is even today registered as a “graveyard” in Kolkata Corporation’s records. According to 1890 record the revenue of this land (graveyard) was paid by Prince Ghulam Mohammad. It is registered as a Waqf Board property but because of negligence and indifference of the Waqf Board Muslim properties worth billions are being wasted and destroyed. An inquiry commission was set up to inquire into the past scams and misappropriations in the Waqf Board and a member was arrested and jailed for some time but there was no improvement in the Board’s administration. Boards are appointed or set up by governments. Presently, all minority institutions, including Waqf Board, are under the direct charge of state’s chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee but in spite of this the graveyard of Mysore dynasty is a living example of the Board’s rampant corruption and negligence.

A complaint against building a road on this historical graveyard land and illegal occupation thereof was lodged by Shahid Alam, secretary of Graveyard Committee, to the chairman of West Bengal Minorities Commission, Justice Khwaja Mohammad Yusuf. On receipt of this complaint he inspected the place. Justice Yusuf had in fact undergone a heart bypass surgery and was convalescing but in spite of this he, inspected the place last month and was shocked to see that the graves of Tipu Sultan’s family members were levelled, occupied and illegal houses and shops built on them. The mosque appeared to be shedding tears on its plight because instead of namazis it has become a meeting ground of vagabonds who play cards inside. He was very much pained to see the destruction of historical sites of the graveyard, desecration of graves and the dead because of the indifference of the Waqf Board. He will be submitting his report to the chief minister soon. The present position is that the graveyard is registered in the records of the Waqf Board and Kolkata Corporation and there is a Graveyard Committee also but the historical graveyard itself is non-existent.
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