Protect archaeological site of Mahasthangarh

High Court asks government

Published on 20 January 2013

Author(s): The Daily Star

Type:  News

The High Court yesterday asked the government to take effective steps to protect and preserve the ancient archaeological site of Mahasthangarh in Bogra and its adjacent shrine and mosque.

Delivering verdict on a writ petition, the court also ordered that the government acquire the private lands within the area by paying adequate compensation to the owners so that they do not suffer any loss for developing the site.

It also asked the district administration of Bogra to consider building another mosque in the open area on the east side of Mahasthangarh so that more devotees can perform their prayers, as the present mosque is unable to accommodate the devotees.

The existing mosque adjacent to the archeological site must be kept untouched and unharmed, the court ordered.The HC came up with the directives after considering the recommendations recently placed by a special committee formed to protect the rich archaeological site.

On April 27 last year, the government formed the 12-member committee headed by historian Prof Muntasir Mamun as per an HC order, said petitioner's counsel Manzill Murshid.

The HC on February 2 last year ordered for forming the committee after hearing the writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) seeking necessary directives to protect and preserve the site.

The petition was filed as a public interest litigation on the basis of reports published then in various national dailies including The Daily Star that Bogra district administration and Mahasthangarh Mazar Unyayan Committee had started displacing ancient structures at the site to make way for a multi-storey building.

Yesterday, in the verdict, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim directed the authorities concerned of the government to take steps by March 15 to implement the recommendations.

The committee in its recommendations said a new mosque can be built at 200 yards east of the main road to make room for increasing number of devotees.

In addition, if the land is found to be privately owned, it can be bought using the fund of the Mosque and Mazar committee -- created with the money donated by fans and devotees.

"A plan can also be made to build a modern foot over bridge over the main road for safe and convenient movement of the devotees. It would also be logical to build facilities of restrooms and providing eating facilities for the male and female devotees along with an orphanage," the committee suggested.

Close inspection and regular audit from the Waqf administrator's office are needed for such a large construction on Waqf locations, the recommendation said. Deputy Attorney General ABM Altaf Hossain represented the government during the hearing.

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