Land sharks watch 206-year-old church in Burdwan

The fencing around an old church, declared a heritage structure in 2006, has sparked tensions in the town of Burdwan and some of the visitors to the church have demanded the intervention of the civic body and the local MP in the matter. Some of the local Christian community suspect that the concrete fence on the church property is purposely erected to isolate the church from the grounds,

which has long been the target of groups of real estate agents in the city. Christ Church, near the iconic Curzon Gate in Burdwan city, was erected in 1816, after the Church Missionary Society bought three bigha of land from the former Burdwan Maharaja at Rs 12.50 per year as property tax.

Captain Charles Stuart, an East India Company officer, records show, had taken it upon himself to build the church using a brick and crucifix floor plan with a tiled roof over wooden beams for structural support. On February 28, 2006, the West Bengal Heritage Commission had declared Christ Church as a heritage site.

Church committee member Bikash Mallik complained to the Burdwan Municipality Chairman about the aggressive encroachment and possible threat of property grabbing by land sharks.

On September 4, he also filed a complaint with the Burdwan PS for physical assault against a certain Menila Haldar, wife of the priest of the Manabananda Haldar church.

Mallik, 74, said: “She got up in flames and attacked me when I went to ask who had authorized the construction of the concrete fence on Church’s land? Many members of the Church Board had no idea. He added: “We suspect that the current priest and some people have been hand in hand with the land mafias who have been chasing high-priced property over the years.” Police have opened an investigation into the assault charge.

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