Five months after the promise of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to allot space to Bangladesh on the premises of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan — where Aurobindo Ghose was born on August 15, 1872 — no access has been provided to the country yet. Government sources told The Hindu that the “issue has not moved due to the reluctance of the trust” that looks after the Bhavan. “The trust officials did not entertain any request to meet the Bangladesh High Commissioner when he came to Kolkata about a month or so ago,” an official said. No one in the trust office could be reached.The building houses the office of the first government of Bangladesh. On April 17, 1971, it took the oath of office there. Three of the Ministries were at Aurobindo Bhavan, while seven were at 9 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Sarani [formerly Shakespeare Sarani] where the Deputy High Commission office is housed. Acknowledging that they have not been granted any access yet, the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Kolkata, Toufique Hassan, said they have plans to construct a museum on the premises “but only in consultation” with the Bhavan’s authority. “If we do anything it will only be done in consultation with the authorities after having a consensus, not by displeasing anyone as Sri Aurobindo is a much respected figure in both [parts of] Bengal. Sentiments attached to him [Sri Aurobindo] would never be disrespected,” Mr. Hassan said. “We plan to raise a museum, but without touching the main building even if the Bangladesh government office was located there. Since Sri Aurobindo was born there, we will not touch it, but construct the museum in some designated corner to mark our Independence and the fact that the first office of the government was located there. We will definitely not spread all over the campus as some people perhaps fear,” said Mr. Hassan.Earlier this year, following her meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Ms. Banerjee had said that both countries would talk to find out how the issue can be addressed. “The place was with them [Hasina’s family] for a long time. Now it is Aurobindo Bhavan, perhaps under the Ashram [trust]. They [Bangladesh] want to restore it. Both countries will talk about it [and] find out if they [the trust] agree and accept land elsewhere,” Ms. Banerjee had said.Mr. Hassan and West Bengal’s Minister for Urban Development Firhad Hakim are likely to visit the Bhavan to discuss the issue with the trust.
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