Jajpur Collector Ranjan Das greets Sajal Chatterji (2nd from left) in his office I express
Jajpur Collector Ranjan Das greets Sajal Chatterji (2nd from left) in his office I express

Bengal government has ignored us: Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay descendant

His great grandfather donated all his property to West Bengal Government which opened a research centre there and many outsiders were provided jobs there.

JAIPUR: The great-grandson of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay has urged Odisha Government to establish a university or research centre in the State in the name of the composer of national song ‘Vande Mataram’ as a fitting tribute to his contribution towards not only in Jajpur, but also the State. Sajal Chatterji, great-grandson of the iconic Bengali litterateur, was here to receive Jajati Award by Jajpur district administration posthumously 124 years after his death. The district level award was conferred on the occasion of the Zilla Mahotsav. 

“Though Bankim Chandra was born in West Bengal, the Bengal Government has not honoured him like what the Odisha Government and Jajpur district administration did today,” said Sajal in an exclusive interview to the Express. Last year, the Bengal Government organised a centenary function on Bankim Chandra but ignored the family members. “Even at the time of the celebration of the centenary function in the name of Bankim Chandra, we were not even invited to the function,” he rued.

The announcement of the award by Jajpur district was an emotional one as Sajal and his entire family struggled to find words to express their feelings on the honour conferred on Bankim Chandra.“I cannot express my happiness and joy when I received the telephone call from Jajpur Collector last week that my great grandfather, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, has been chosen to be honoured with Jajati Award. It is an honour not only for the family but for all Bengalis and the State of West Bengal,” he said.

His great-grandfather donated all his property to West Bengal Government which opened a research centre there and many outsiders were provided jobs there. However, Sajal rues that no kin of Bankim Chandra was welcome. “No one even cared how we are,” he added. Sajal was accompanied with his wife Dr Bijili Sarkat, son and a daughter.

The great writer had worked as deputy magistrate in Jajpur from 1882 to 1884. The then deputy magistrate is now known as Sub-Collector. During his years of service in Jajpur, he stayed in the official residence of Jajpur deputy magistrate on the banks of Baitarani river where he penned ‘Devi Chaudharani’, based on a real-life story.

Bankim Chandra was born on June 27, 1838, in Kanthalpara village of West Bengal’s 24 Parganas district. After his education from Calcutta University, he was offered the post of deputy magistrate and served at Jajpur. He died in 1894.

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