About Jagannath Hall
Jagannath Hall proudly bears the legacy of the University of Dhaka. It came into existence at the same time as the University of Dhaka.
On the first day of July in 1921, the University of Dhaka opened its doors to students with three dormitories for students. They were Jagannath Hall, Salimullah Muslim Hall and Dacca Hall.
The institutional design of the University of Dhaka was highly influenced by that of the Oxford of England and incorporated a non–affiliating and residential character. Jagannath Hall is recognized as the residential dormitory of Dhaka University that houses students from religious minority background.
Sri Kishori Lal Saha (Roy Choudhury), Zaminder (landlord) of Baliati in Dhaka District and also a resident of Dhaka Nawabganj area, founded Jagannath College in 1884 in the name of his father Jagannath Saha.
The history of the University of Dhaka revealed that there were two feeder colleges, Jagannath College and Dacca (Dhaka)College. They were the sources of post intermediate students for graduate level courses in the University. And hence these colleges were restricted from offering graduate level courses, limiting them offer education up to intermediate level only.
To acknowledge their contributions, two dormitories of the newly established university were named resembling those colleges, ‘Jagannath Hall’ and ‘DaccaHall’.
During the Second World War, the British Government took over the Jagannath Hallcompound and used it as a military barrack and a hospital facility. But after the partition of India in 1947, the Pakistan Government took over the south building to house the university administration (Registrar’s office) and the south-east building to house the East Pakistan Assembly (Parliament).
The students of Jagannath Hall have played very important roles in shaping up and advancing our society and culture since the early days of the University. They have been instrumental in inspiring, organising and driving historical movements like the Language movement in 1952, gaining due economic and political rights of the people of the land in the subsequent years, and the historic War of Independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
And for those reasons, the occupying military forces of Pakistan had Jagannath Hall at the top of their hit list during their infamous genocide on the night of 25 March 1971, in the name of ‘Operation Searchlight’.
On this dark night, the Dhaka University campus was flooded with blood! At least 57 teachers, students and staff of the Hall, including the internationally renowned philosopher Dr Gobinda Chandra Deb and the then provost, prominent philanthropist and pundit Professor Jyotirmoy Guhathakurata were mercilessly killed by the barbaric Pakistani Army. That was the darkest night for the Hall.
A good number of students of Jagannath Hall took an active and heroic role in the liberation war of Bangladesh. Following this glorious path of sacrifice for the nation’s independence, the students of this Hall continued to take determined strides in the progressive movements for restoration of democracy, political and human rights as well as free thinking in the society.
The second darkest night in the Hall’s history was the 15 October 1985, when the fragile roof of the Assembly Hall TV Auditorium that was under restoration works, collapsed killing 26 students and 14 other individuals including employees and guests.
After the tragedy, it was clearly evident that neither the necessary risk assessment for the construction works nor the compliance to health and safety codes were followed. And that caused 40 precious lives in such a prestigious national educational institution.
The administration of the University of Dhaka realised the terrible lacking on their part. They declared the 15 October as the Dhaka University Mourning Day to honour the victims and constructed a modern new building on that site naming it as “October Smriti Bhaban”.
The first Provost of the Hall was Dr Naresh Chandra Sengupta (1921-1924). In 1926, when Dr Ramesh Chandra Majumder, the famous historian, was the Provost, Rabindranath Tagore visited Jagannath Hall. At that time an annual magazine titled Basantikawas being published by Jagannath Hall.
Receiving mounting requests from the Hall students, Rabindranath composed one of his famous songs for Basantika “Ei kathati monea rekheo”. Other famous contributors to Basantikawho were also associated with Hall were Mohit Lal Majumder (poet/author), Buddhadeb Basu (poet/author) and Dr Monmatha Roy (playwright ) just to name a few.