ibnlive » India

Aug 19, 2006 at 09:07am IST

Satyagraha buried in its birthplace

Champaran: The British forced the poor farmers of Champaran district in Bihar to grow indigo and other cash crops. Unable to grow food crops necessary for their survival, the farmers were forced to live in extreme poverty.

Their plight gave birth to the first mass movement during the independence struggle.

Hazarimal Dharamshala in Bihar's Champaran district is the place from where Mahatma Gandhi led the famous Champaran movement.

Mahatma Gandhi led the famous Champaran movement from Hazarimal Dharamshala in Champaran district of Bihar

Despite being declared as a heritage monument by the government, a sprawling market complex now stands where the first of the Satyagraha revolutions took place.

Whatever little of the historical building that remains intact is locked, awaiting an uncertain future.

Future of the ruined historical building remains uncertain

"The Bihar government has declared the building a protected monument. It was the original owners who destroyed it," says Chairman of Gandhi Museum Razi Ahmad.

Hazarimal Dharamshala in Bettiah should have ideally been preserved as a heritage monument.

But in its place stands a modern market complex, selling products as diverse as colas, pastries and cell phones.

The shopping complex sells products as diverse as colas, pastries and cell phones

Even the locals seem oblivious to the historical importance of the building.

"What is the use of paying attention to something that is already destroyed?" asked shopkeeper Suresh Kumar.

The state government too seems to have turned a blind eye to the building's plight. For several years now, a case against the owners' decision to sell the building is pending in the Patna High Court.

If the court doesn’t intervene soon, just pictures of the heritage site will remain in the History books.