They all are great personalities. Their eminence is beyond question. They are the symbol of dedication, creativity, bravery and patriotism. Their contributions had shaped history and created a new era for the nation and the world.
Together over hundred sculptures can be found at ‘Swadhinata Sangram’ sculpture garden situated at the turn towards Fuller Road and between Jagannath Hall and SM Hall on the Dhaka University campus.And at the centre of them has a huge statue featuring a total of 18 martyrs who sacrificed their lives in different segments of the country’s liberation struggle.
Holding the national flag atop, the 70-feet high sculpture depicts four crucial junctures (1952, ‘66, ‘69, and several phases of 1971) of Bangladesh’s national history.
All the episodes relating to the stated years have been well enshrined in the history and emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation and have made the entire task a compound one. Yet, every episode can be considered a distinct sculpture.
The whole sculpture garden is a unique creation by the celebrated sculptor, Shamim Shikder, reflecting the glorious past.
With the usage of light, music and water, the garden once fascinated numerous visitors, but in recent years, it has lost its grandeur due to lack of maintenance.
While visiting the sculpture garden last Friday, this correspondent found that the art works are covered with a black layer of moss and dust.The estate office’s engineering section of Dhaka University is in charge of taking any decision regarding these sculptures.
Supriya Das, acting manager of the estate office, said, “We are responsible for maintaining the surrounding areas of the sculpture garden. But we don’t have the expertise to clean the sculptures. Sculpture Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts does this job.”
Asked if the Sculpture Department has been informed of the sorry state of these art works, Supriya replied, “The process is now halted for coronavirus outbreak. We will resume it when the pandemic is over.”
However, several residents in the area have alleged that the art works of Swadhinata Sangram’ sculpture garden are never taken care of. They said these sculptures have been withering away for years.
Experts also have expressed their opinion on this matter.
Mukul Kumar Barai, chairman of the Sculpture Department of Faculty of Fine Arts, said: “The authorities should inform the sculptor before taking any initiative of restoring or cleaning these art works. We can help them if they want. But till date I haven’t received any letter from the estate office in this regard.”
“There should be a policy for preserving and renovating all the sculptures. If these sculptures are not maintained properly it will tarnish the university’s image,” he added.
A number of students of Dhaka University have told this correspondent that the ‘Swadhinata Sangram’ sculpture garden is a national asset.
They said the sculptures set up there make them proud. But a nonchalant attitude of the authorities concerned is responsible for the sculptures to rust away.