Raj-era mental asylum-turned-police school awarded for conservation

Kolkata, Nov 24 (IANS) Raj-era Dalanda House, which was restored by Kolkata Police and which currently houses the Police Training School, was on Tuesday conferred with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation-INTACH Heritage award for excellence in conservation.

Dalanda House takes its name from Dullundah, one of the 55 villages acquired by the East India Company in 1758.

In 1847, the biggest mental asylum for natives was established here after shifting the old one from Russa Pagla, according to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The premises in 1906 passed to the Stamp and Stationary Department of the government of Bengal.

In 1914, after eight years of persuasion, Sir Frederick Halliday, then commissioner of police, Calcutta, succeeded in establishing the Police Training School by discontinuing the practice of sending recruits to Bhagalpur for training.

However, during the first few years, it became infamous when celebrated police officer Charles Tegart used it as an interrogation centre for freedom fighters of Bengal, said INTACH state convenor G.M. Kapur.

Dalanda House is not only the centre for police training but also houses the Police Dog Squad.

Architecturally, this heritage building follows the ‘panopticon’ style developed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham which was commonly used in prisons, hospitals and asylums where a circular structure with a surveillance house at its centre kept all inmates fearful of constant vigilance.

“This building has been restored very carefully by Kolkata Police and has become a landmark of the city now with the addition of a very aesthetically designed gateway,” said Kapur.

Recently, INTACH also launched an updated and enlarged edition of “Calcutta-Built Heritage Today” book.

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