To Orwell Today,


I'm the Daily Telegraph's Delhi correspondent and I'm trying to contact Debaraprija Mookherjee, who I understand heads up Orwell conservation efforts in Motihari.

Would you be able to put me in touch with him, rather urgently?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Best regards,
Andrew Marszal

Greetings Andrew,

I've forwarded your email to Debaprija Mookherjee and would be very interested in reading the article you write after your interview for latest updates on the Orwell project.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

George Orwell's birthplace under threat from Indian developers, by Andrew Marszal, Delhi, Telegraph, Jun 30, 2015
Orwell -- real name Eric Arthur Blair -- spent the first year of his life in a small compound in Motihari, modern day Bihar, while his father Richard worked as an opium agent for the British colonial government, overseeing poppy growers and preparing the drug for export to China. The very same town 14 years later became the crucible for Mahatma Gandhi's resistance to British rule, as the freedom fighter launched his first "satyagraha" movement here to support local farmers forced to grow opium for the factory that employed Orwell’s father. Competing bids to honour each of the town's remarkable heritages have clashed occasionally over the years, but were thought to have been settled in 2010 when the state government earmarked half of Orwell's former colonial compound for an "Orwell Park" and the neighbouring plot to commemorate the independence movement. However, a local society for protecting Orwell's legacy now claim that developers backed by local municipal officials are attempting to secretly and illegally expand the "rival" Gandhian plot -- known as Satyagraha Park -- ironically, straight onto the birthplace of one of the last century's greatest anti-imperialist writers....

The alleged encroachment came to light last Saturday, as Mr Mookherjee's George Orwell Commemorative Committee gathered at the site to mark the writer's 113th birthday. They noticed that construction for a parking lot and a new boundary wall had begun on the 12,000 square feet area set aside to conserve Orwell's legacy, and notified the authorities. On Wednesday, the district magistrate stepped in to halt the expansion of the Gandhi park, and ordered an inquiry be called into the matter.... Mr Mookherjee says the town is already becoming a hub of Orwell-related activity, including a national seminar on the author to be held in September. "People from all across the literary world are all supportive of Orwell's legacy and are coming together here to ensure his birthplace is protected as a heritage site", he said....

Jackie sends Debapriya Mookherjee contact info for Delhi correspondent

Govt encroaches upon Orwell's 'protected' birthplace in Bihar, Hindustan Times, Jun 26, 2016
MOTIHARI: The protected birthplace of celebrated British writer George Orwell in Bihar's Motihari has been allegedly encroached upon -- by the government itself. And it came to light on Saturday, the birth anniversary of the author who penned the classic allegorical novel ANIMAL FARM. An organisation which celebrates his life and work in India said that the urban development department has started construction work within a 2.5-acre land declared as a protected site by the state government. It is named ORWELL PARK.... Deopriye Mukherjee, chairman of George Orwell commemorative committee, said ticket counters and a water tank for Satyagrah Park, coming up beside the protected site, have been constructed on a 12,000 square feet area of the ORWELL PARK. He said they had no idea of the construction till they gathered on Saturday to observe his birth anniversary. "A boundary wall is also being constructed on the encroached land", he added. Additional collector Arshad Ali said the East Champaran district administration has received complaints of encroachment and the matter was being inquired into.


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~