Ramna Kali Mandir
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The Ramna Kali Mandir (Bengali: রমনা কালী মন্দির), also known as the Ramna Kalibari- house of the Hindu Goddess Kali, was one of the most famous Hindu temples of the Indian subcontinent. It was believed to be over a thousand years old and was situated in Dhaka, the capital of present-day Bangladesh, on the outskirts of the Ramna Park, now renamed as Suhrawardy Udyan.
Common lore states that the temple was established by a Nepalese devotee of the Goddess Kali who had come to Bengal from the Himalayas. The major development of the temple occurred under the patronage of Rani Bilashmoni Debi of Bhawal estate.
In the time before Dhaka had embraced the high-rise culture, the temple stood as one of the city's most prominent landmarks. In front of the temple was a large dighi (pond) which was a popular place for both worshipers and visitors to swim. The architecture of the temple reflected the different styles over the centuries it was built. The tower was called "shikhara" which should not be confused with minerate of mosque.
Next to the temple was Ma Anandamoyee Ashram (Bengali: মা আনন্দময়ী আশ্রম), another place of worship with a residential complex and sanitation facility. The entire temple complex spanned almost 2.25 acres (9,100 m2) and was situated on the south side of Ramna Park, opposite the Bangla Academy.
Demolition and genocide by the Pakistan Army
On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistan Army was unleashed on the civilian population and commenced a genocide that would last nine months until liberation in December that year. It has been widely documented that one of the primary targets of the Pakistan Army and government in its military action was the Hindu population. As such, prominent Hindu targets such as Jagannath Hall (a hostel for Hindu students on the Dhaka University campus) and Ramna Kali Mandir were singled out right at the onset of the Pakistani campaign.
On March 27, 1971, the Pakistan Army entered the Ramna Kali Temple complex and within the space of an hour, murdered over 100 people, almost all Hindus. Several Muslims had also sought refuge in the temple complex as the Pakistan army started going on rampage in the neighboring areas of Dhaka University, and they were present among the casualties.
Until 2000, accounts of the demolition of the temple relied largely on oral testimony by survivors and witnesses of the Pakistani Army action. However, a Public Commission was instituted by the Awami League government of Bangladesh in 2000 on the anniversary of the massacre, with the goal of documenting the events. The chairman was Justice KM Sobhan, who presented a preliminary report on September 27, 2000.
Only around 50 victims of the massacre have been identified; relatives of the other victims are either deceased or have left Bangladesh. An appeal has been made for any surviving relatives of victims of the Ramna Kali Mandir massacre around the world to contribute names of their kin so as to contribute to a list of martyrs on a future memorial.
Confiscation by Bangladesh Government
A symbolic casualty of the brutal Bangladesh Liberation War, it was widely expected that the Ramna Kali Mandir would either be rebuilt completely, or left in its state of ruins as a monument to the devastation and genocide. However, the new government of Bangladesh led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, though espousing secularism and equal rights for all citizens irrespective of religion, confiscated the land of the temple from the Hindu board that had legal ownership, and handed it over to the Department of Public Works. The government then bulldozed the last traces of the temple in 1972 and handed the land over to the Dhaka Club, an elite entertainment and social venue. The move was immediately protested in the courts by the Ramna Kali Mandir Board, which still legally owned the premises, but the case was dismissed on the grounds that since the temple no longer existed, ownership was now disputed (see DAINIK BANGLA, 27 December 1972). And thus an epic and ancient Hindu landmark was lost.
Present condition in 2010
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There are now several temples in the boundary of Ramna Kali Mandir and Ma Anandamoyi Asram- Ramna Kali Mandir, Ma Durga Mandir, Radha Krisna Mandir are in almost full shape. There are some other ongoing Temples to be built e.g. Baba Loknath Temple, Ma Anandamoyi Temple, Shiva Temple, Temple of Sri Harichad Thakur etc.
- Thakur, Rajen (21 September 2009). "Bangladesh: The Demolition Of Ramana Kali Temple In March 1971". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- News item on protests regarding attempt to shift temple location
- News item on rebuilding of temple
- Article on history and Commission report including details of the massacre and temple destruction on 27 March 1971