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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Pratap Press lies in utter neglect

TNN | Jan 24, 2012, 07.41AM IST

KANPUR: The historic Pratap Press Building is facing tough times these days. This archaeological monument is lying in utter neglect and need immediate attention. This building is on the list of historical monuments of Indian National Trust of Art Culture and Heritage (INTACH). It is being encroached by more than 100 families, who are living there for more than five decades.

In the list of 250 most desirable historical monuments in and around the city that are identified by INTACH, Pratap Press is on the second place.

This ancient monument, with the first kind of printing machine, old style of writing and above all the articles written by great revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Ganesh Shanker Vidyarthi, Chandra Shekhar Azad and many more, is lying in shambles. It has become a mute spectator to all the malpractices and meeting point of the anti-social elements. However, many printing machines and papers have already been stolen. Pratap Press is now waiting for court verdict, which would declare its real owner.

"A good and efficient administration, conducive to the welfare of the people, prevention of social evils and persecutions, encouragement of propagation of self-dependence and strong faith in self-rule was the motto of Pratap," SP Singh, head of the department of history, Christ Church College, said.

Talking about Ganesh Shanker Vidyarthi, the founder of Pratap, Singh said, "Vidyarthi was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar and became an active member of the Indian National Congress and the Home Rule Movement. In 1920, through his paper, Vidyarthi vehemently criticised the government and the zamindars for which he was arrested on charges of spreading unrest. In 1923, he was re-arrested for his speech delivered at the Fatehpur district political conference and released in January 1924."

He was a chairman of the reception committee of the All India Congress Committee Session (1925) at Kanpur, a member of the UP Legislative Council (1926-29), president of the UP Political Conference held at Farrukhabad (1929) and president of the UP Congress Committee (1930). In March 1931, communal riots flared up in Kanpur. Vidyarthi tried his best to restore communal peace and harmony, but was killed on March 25, 1931 while visiting an affected area.

"Ganesh Shanker was a journalist with a forceful, clear and simple style. He deplored social and moral degradation of the Indian people and wanted laws to be passed to check social evils. He wanted to check beggary, rehabilitate the prostitutes, prevent young boys from being trained as ascetics and improve the condition of women. He was opposed to the powerful impact of western civilisation which made Indian intellectuals slaves of foreign culture," Singh added.

He urged to declare this dilapidated building as a national monument so that the district administration and organizations like INTAC and Archaeological Survey of India can maintain it.

Ironically, the site earmarked as heritage building is being ignored by organisations who claim to be working for preserving the legacy of the past. The main reason for its mismanagement is the encroachment of more than 100 families and 500 people. Despite knowing the importance of this place, they are not ready to leave.

"We are living here from last five decades. We are paying Rs 20 as rent that too is annually deposited in 'kachehri'. Even if me and my family or 50 per cent of families agree to leave this place, what about the others," said Dinesh Singh, living in Pratap Press.

He opposed the idea of declaring it as a historical monument.

Another resident Guddu said: "My forefathers told me that several attempts were made by the government as well as by the administration to buy the building. All the steps failed as it has many owners. Also, the people living here are not ready to leave the place."

North zone convener of INTACH Thakur Ranveer said that any monument which is above 100 years old can be considered as archaeological site. Pratap press is having its own importance and can be termed as historical site which should be preserved.

"I had been through the list of heritage and historical monuments prepared by INTACH and Pratap Press is there. I would drew the attention of the government and the administration for its preservation and conservation," Ranveer added.

Other sites

The condition of Gandhi Bhawan, Ganesh Shanker Vidyarthi temple at Chaubegola and many more buildings is same.

The worse is the famous 'Shiv Temple' popularly known as 'Patthar Ghat', constructed by Raja Takait Rai, Diwan at the court of Awadh Nawab about 200 years back.

Baradari at Bithoor is another art work, speaking about marvellous architecture and craftsmanship. It needs attention.

Status of monuments

Monuments under state archaeology department - 9

Monuments under Archaeological Survey of India - 34

Listed heritage buildings in and around Kanpur - 250

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