Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered keeping the Tentultala field in the capital's Kalabagan area as a playground, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said today.
"Local people will use this playground as before as per the instruction of the Prime Minister. However, the land will remain as police property and police will do the maintenance of the ground," the minister told reporters at the Secretariat.
"I saw that there was no place to play in the area. The prime minister also said that since there is no open space and there is no scope of entertainment the land should be kept as it is now. That is our decision," said the minister.
But the minister also mentioned that it is not a suitable place for a playground.
Asked about the new location of the Kalabagan police station, the minister said, "We will see and will talk about later. Nothing is happening right now. The construction work must be stopped."
The 0.20-acre Tentultala ground is in an alley opposite the Square Hospital. It is basically a vacant lot in the midst of residential buildings home for nearly 30,000 people. Children and teenagers of the area have been playing in the small field, while it has also been used for community gatherings such as Eid prayers, social events and funerals.
Terming the land "fallow", the Dhaka district administration on 24 August last year said the playground was proposed to be acquired by the government for the construction of Kalabagan police station. The announcement sparked outrage among the locals and they started the "Save Tetultala Playground" movement.
On Sunday this week, Syeda Ratna – one of the leading activists of the movement – and her 17-year-old son were whisked up to Kalabagan police station. They were released after 13 hours on condition of "not obstructing government work". Following the detention of the mother-son duo, rights activists joined the growing chorus for saving the playground.
In the wake of the protest, home minister instructed the authorities to find an alternative location for the police station.
However, cops continued the construction of a police station on Tentultala playground in Dhaka's Kalabagan on Tuesday, ignoring protests by children and even the home minister's instructions for shifting to an alternative location.
Human rights activists, environmentalists, cultural activists and locals on Wednesday warned of a strong movement if the Tentultala ground is not returned to the locals and children.
They staged a protest rally against the decision of setting up a police station at Tentultala field. After that 14 native trees were planted along the border of the field.