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Jagannath Hall

Jagannath Hall (JNH) is a hall of residence (compound) for the minority students of the Dhaka University (DU) in Bangladesh. When the University of Dhaka was established in July 1921 in British India under the University of Dacca ACT of 1920, three halls of residence were also established at the same time, JNH was one of them. People will not quite comprehend if we call it merely a hall of residence. At its very inception, DU was designed in the same manner as the Oxford University in England, where these halls are treated as colleges with a sprawling compound consisting of several residential buildings, playground & sports facilities, temple/ prayer hall, pond, gardens, lot of open space. Several professors of the University work as House Tutors to look after the students of the hall and is headed by a Provost who is the head of a department of the university.

Sri Kishori Lal Saha (Roy Choudhury), Zaminder of Baliati in Dhaka District and also resident of Dhaka Nawabganj area, founded Jagannath College in 1884 in the name of his father Jagannath Saha. In 1921 he established Jagannath Hall mainly for the Hindu students of DU. The then DU Commission proposed and adopted the name “Jagannath Hall”. During the Second World War, the British Government took over the JNH compound and used it as a military barrack and a hospital facility. But after the partition of India, the Pakistan Government took over the south building to house the university administration (registrar’s office) and the south-east building to house the East Pakistan Assembly (Parliament).

There are several buildings in the JNH for different purposes-4 of them for students residence with attached kitchen and dinning halls, office building, recreation (common room) and canteen building, temple, etc. There is a football (soccer) ground, a tennis court, a basketball court, a pond for swimming and other facilities. The normal residential students number around one thousand, and a similar number of non-resident students are attached to this hall.

The first Provost of the Hall was Dr. Naresh Chandra Sengupta (1921-1924). When Dr.Ramesh Chandra Majumder, the famous historian was the Provost, Rabindranath Tagore visited Jagannath Hall in 1926. At that time an annual magazine titled “Basantika” was being published from Jagannath Hall. At the request of the JNH students, Rabindranath composed the famous song for Basantika- “aei kaathaati monea rekheo”. Other contributors to Basantika or famous names associated with JNH were Mohit Lal Majumder (poet/author), Budhadeb Basu (poet/author), Dr.Monmath Roy (Drama) just to name a few.

There were quite a few very renowned professors of DU who were Provosts of Jagannath Hall. The name of Dr.Gobinda Chandra Deb is very prominent among them. Two names-Jagannath Hall & Gobinda Deb, are inseparable, they go together in the history of JNH and DU. Dr. Gobinda Deb (born 1907), Head of Philosophy and Psychology departments of DU, the renowned Philosopher and writer was the Provost of the Hall from 1957 to March 25, 1971 when he was brutally murdered by the occupying Pakistani army. Dr Deb used to live at the JNH Provost residence ( Buro Shibbari) just outside the JNH compound to the east. He was of such a character that almost everybody in the University respected and loved him enormously. He was also the chairman of the Pakistan Philosophical Congress.

The night Dr.Gobinda Deb was savagely gunned down by the Pak army, Dr. Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurata (English), Santosh Kumar Bhattacharjee (History), Anudyapayan Bhattacharjee (Physics), Radha Gobinda Saha (Economics), Ram Krishna Adhikari, and a lot more (57) lost their lives to these brutal and inhuman atrocities of the barbaric Pakistan army in the dark of the night of March 25, 1971 and at the dawn of the creation of Bangladesh.

Another great tragedy in the history of Jagannath Hall took place on October 15, 1985 when the roof of the residential assembly building collapsed killing 39 people including 26 students and 12 guests and one staff. This huge tragedy was mourned by the whole country. In 1988 this assembly house was rebuilt as a full fledged residential building for the students, and was aptly named as “October Memorial Bhawan”. Like-wise, the existing four residential buildings were renamed after the fallen professors of JNH- Dr.Gobinda Deb Bhawan, Dr. Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurata Bhawan, Santosh Kumar Bhattacharjee Bhawan and Anudyapan Bhattacharjee Bhawan.

To all its residents-past and present, Jagannath Hall remains so dear to all of them that they can never forget their days they lived in the hall and treasure its memory all their life.

Victims of March, 1971

Victims of October 15, 1985

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