The Financial Express

Dishonouring national icons

| Updated: October 20, 2017 23:19:57

Dishonouring national icons
Vested interests always bide their time to grab the right moment to strike. They cannot be identified always, as they remain mingled with crowds. As if to prove this truth, these forces emerged from nowhere to hit a revered institution in Brahmanbaria on Tuesday, January 12. Its name is linked to legendary maestro Alauddin Khan. He is considered one of the greatest of classical musicians of all times in South Asia.
The hours-long violence, arson and clashes that rocked the district town in the country on the day did not have the faintest connection with Ustad Alauddin Khan (1862-1972). He was a devout Muslim --- a saintly figure. He was born in a Brahmanbaria village in a family of classical musicians. Yet a museum-cum-musical institution named after him was victim of mindless wrath of a section of the rioters. It's sad that a young student got caught in the skirmishes, and met a tragic death. But how the impact of this death and the other violent acts could spill over to Ustad Alauddin Khan Museum defies reason. This institution is a popular centre for the town's cultural enthusiasts. Originally founded as a museum to preserve the memorabilia of the immortal maestro, it established a music school in 2011. In no time, local children and young men and women began enrolling in the school in ever-rising numbers. Until the wholesale damages done to the institution on January 12, the music school had four hundred students. The museum building housed an auditorium that used to be rented out to the organisers of cultural functions.
As the violence raged in and around the museum-cum-school, a destruction spree engulfed the site. It was the museum collections that bore the brunt mostly. Those included dozens of souvenirs carrying the memories of Alauddin Khan and his eventful career. Around a thousand priceless single and group photographs of the instrumentalist were also burnt down.
The incidents of the violence including a death have warranted mediation participated by the rival parties. That should have been the normal development. Instead, a section of the youths gone berserk swooped on the railway station and other important installations, damaging them badly. Yet another section of youths poured their blind fury on Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Bhasha Chattar and the offices of literary organisations in the town. The former site was set up to pay homage to the Language Movement martyrs. Its name is associated with the politician who first demanded Bangla be made a state language of the erstwhile Pakistan. He placed the demand in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in Karachi in 1948. 
The Brahmanbaria town is proverbially famous for its cultural and literary vibrancy. That's why the so-called mob attack on its symbols of enlightenment brings up incredulity. Many would like to call the acts atrocious. The irony is the Brahmanbaria district has produced over a dozen major and eminent writers of the country. They include Abdul Qadir, Sanaul Haq, Mohammad Mahfuzullah, Al Mahmud, Fazal Shahabuddin and others. Oddoito Mollobarman, the celebrated novelist in the undivided Bengal, was born in a village near the town.
Given the nature and style of the attacks on Ustad Alauddin Khan Museum and the offices of cultural activities, they smack of a motive. It certainly goes against the growth of finer sensibilities and the love for the arts in us. Like the other South Asian nations, we, too, take pride in some unique national events and personalities. They include the Language Movement, the Liberation War; and the figures like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ustad Alauddin Khan. Only self-destructive elements can dishonour their national icons.

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