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Ray, Ananda Chandra


Ray, Ananda Chandra (1844-1935) lawyer, politician. Ananda Chandra Ray was born in Dhaka in 1844. His ancestral home was at village Kanurgaon in south Vikrampur. His ancestors were Varendra Brahmins of Rajshahi. His father Gourasundar Ray was the manager of the zamindari estate of James Wise, the indigo planter and zamindar of Dhaka. Ananda Chandra Ray studied at Pogose School in Dhaka. He probably began legal practice in Dhaka court in 1862-63 on completion of his pleadership examination. He was well versed both in English and Persian. Andanda Chandra earned fame in legal practice. At one stage, he purchased a zamindari estate at Bhola from the Armenian zamindar Lucas and gradually became very influential. Evidences of his social work in nineteenth century Dhaka can still be found. He was the founder of the bar library of the old court. Besides, he extended financial assistance for the construction of the gate of Dhakeswari Temple and for meeting its overall expenditure. Ananda Chandra established a school after the name his wife Anandamoyee at his native village in south Vikrampur. The school was later shifted to his palatial building at Armanitola in Dhaka. This institution is now well known as Anandamoyee School.

Ananda Chandra Ray became actively involved in local government politics in the 1880s. He had vital role in ensuring autonomy in the local government system. He delivered speeches at various meetings and forums in Dhaka and demanded handing over of municipal management to the natives. The Dacca People's Association (Dhaka Sadharan Sabha), a socio-political organization of Dhaka played an important role in this campaign, and Ananda Chandra as a member of the forum made valuable contributions to that end. The first municipal election of Dhaka was held in 1884 under the new Municipal Act, 1884 (Act III of 1884) and Ananda Chandra Ray was elected a commissioner unopposed from Ward-5 of Dhaka. Consequent upon the introduction of election system in place of nomination for the appointment of chairman of the municipality Ananda Chandra Ray was elected chairman by the commissioners. He was the first elected chairman of Dhaka Municipality which office he held till 1887.

Andanda Chandra Ray was a member of the East Bengal Landholders Association. He was also elected a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. After the establishment of Jagannath College in 1884, he was included in the Board of Trustees and was elected as member of the governing body of the college. Ananda Chandra Ray was a member of the governing council of Dhaka University and a member of the Board of Directors of Dhakeswari Cotton Mills.

Ananda Chandra Ray revived the Dacca People's Association in early twentieth century. His residence was then the epicentre of various political movements including agitation against the partition of bengal and the swadeshi movement. During the movement against the Partition of Bengal the Dacca People's Association led by Ananda Chandra Ray succeeded in organising the middle class Hindus of Dhaka in creating anti-government public opinion and forging opposition to the Partition of Bengal.

The Comilla shooting case and the Alipore conspiracy case during the Swadeshi Movement were the two notable suits handled by Ananda Chandra Ray. After reputed practice for almost half a century he retired from legal profession in 1908. He then joined the Congress politics. He was elected as president of the reception committee of the provincial conference of the National Congress held in Dhaka in 1912. The government conferred upon him the title of 'Ray Bahadur' in recognition of his philanthropic activities.

Ananda Chandra Ray died in Dhaka in 1935. A road in the Armanitola area in Dhaka has been named after him as Ananda Chandra Road. [Sharif Uddin Ahmed]