September 4, 2011

Mamata Banerjee's office has no space for freedom fighters

DNA / Santanu Banerjee / Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:00 IST

Several changes have hit the Writers Building during the past 100 days since Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister. But amidst these, one important change that has gone unnoticed in the state secretariat building is that portraits of three Indian freedom fighters have gone missing.

A section of the government officials are searching for clues to the missing portraits of Binoy Krishna Basu, Dinesh Chandra Gupta and Badal Gupta — who entered the Writers Building as young men to challenge the British and become martyrs during the freedom struggle.

The trio entered the building on December 8, 1930 and shot dead a British official, Col NS Simpson, the then Inspector General Prison, Bengal. Subsequently, they engaged the top officials in a gun battle in the building — which is now called the Veranda Battle.

Though they were overpowered, two of them died — Badal on the spot and Binoy in hospital— after consuming potassium cyanide. Dinesh, who survived, was hanged.

During the Left front rule, a small stone slab was installed in their memory at the end of first floor corridor of the Writers’ Building. Later, portraits of the three were put up in the lobby of the chief minister’s office in 1980.

Interestingly, after Banerjee started her clean up operations at the Writers’ Building, which included changing the colours of the office, its lobby and giving it a new look, the portraits were taken off from the walls.

Now, the officials looking for clues to the missing portraits said: “When this government is ready to pay tributes to all famous men in history why are the portraits of the three missing?”

And what is more baffling, no one knows if the portraits will ever come back. However, some officials said: “The portraits were sent to artists for restoration work, so that they look better.” But even they did know how long that would take.
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