Guwahati, Wednesday, November 03, 2010
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British cemetery lies abandoned in Dibrugarh
Staff Correspondent

The pathetic condition of the main entrance of the cemetery.
 DIBRUGARH, Nov 2 – There appears to be no caretaker for the heritage British cemetery in the city here. The historical graveyard, which reminds the people of the British reign and the transition period of early Assam, today is covered with dense shrubs and weeds.

Even when the world marked All Souls Day today, not a single candle was lit in this British cemetery, which is also called a Christian cemetery. All Souls Day is marked all over the world on November 2, in which Christian families pray for the repose of the departed souls. Hundreds of Christian families, however, laid wreaths and lit candles on the tombs of their departed family members at the graveyard in Paltanbazar here.

Records say that the first person to be laid on the ground of this British cemetery was young British Corporal Thomas Trail. This British official died at the age of 33. Top British officials, then Executive Councillor W Claig, Upper Assam Executive Councillor Barnard J, Indian General Steam Navigation Company's ship Rajmahal’s Commander Thomas Walter, Lakhimpur district’s civil surgeon Lt (Col) Jemirier and many others were said to be buried here. The bodies of a number of British soldiers who died fighting during World War II also lies buried in the cemetery. Wiiliam Alexander Mackensie Duncan, the then Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh (erstwhile Lakhimpur district), was also laid to rest in this graveyard.

Altogether 103 British nationals were laid to rest in this cemetery. The graveyard which is situated just beside NH 37 near Amolapatty here spreads across about 68,608 square feet. It was constructed in 1862-63 reportedly with worth of Rs 4812 only. This age old heritage site, can provide slant to researchers and provide scope for students to track ancient history. However, it is hurting to mention here that this historic heritage site is almost left abandoned. The inside view gives truly a jungle look with wild bushes growing higher and higher. Most of the tombs are seen buried under the bushes. Businessmen surrounding the graveyard told this newspaper that they had seen workers of the municipality sweeping and cleaning the graveyard only twice in the last two years. During the day, the main entrance of the cemetery with roof is treated as toilet by the public.

Some five years back about Rs 1.4 lakh was used reportedly for the preservation of the historical site. On one ocassion, even the Lions Club of Dibrugarh took up cleaning works inside the cemetery. However, given the historical importance, nothing much has been done to preserve the site, which is one of the few heritage sites, probably in entire Assam.

The administration and the State government appears to turn a blind eye to the historic graveyard. It needs mention here that most of the erected tombs inside the cemetery are caving in.

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