Mamata announces new university for Matua community in Bengal

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced the foundation of a new university for the Matua community here.

Matuas are primarily Hindu refugees from Bangladesh and are considered to be Bengal’s second most influential scheduled caste community, with an estimated population of nearly 30 lakh.

The university, to be named after Harichand Thakur and Guruchand Thakur — the founding fathers of the sect, would be built on 8.1 acres of land in North 24 Parganas district’s Chandpara, five km from the headquarters of All India Matua Mahasangha, the representative body of the community, Banerjee said at an event marking the birth centenary of Dalit Matua community matriarch Binapani Debi, better known as ‘Baro-ma’.

“The land has been identified and given to the Education Department for constructing the university,” she added.

“The Mahasangha has played a vital role in protesting against the atrocities on the poor. It has always promoted and believed in unity among all communities. The university is our gratitude for their contribution. We have also created Matua Sangha Vikash Parshad (welfare board),” the Chief Minister said.

Banerjee also said she has instructed the state Tourism Department to build two gates for the ‘Thakur-bari’ — the residence of the founding family — and aesthetically decorate the premises.

Accusing the Maharasthra government of stopping certain facilities given to the backward classes, Banerjee claimed the scheduled castes and minorities in Bengal are treated with respect and equality.

“In Maharastra, many facilities for the scheduled caste community have been withdrawn. They are also not getting the caste certificate. That is not the case in Bengal. Here, our brothers and sisters of the scheduled castes, Matuas and minority communities stay together,” she added.

The Matuas have been a big political force behind Mamata Banarjee’s win in the 2011 and 2016 legislative assembly elections in Bengal.