On 14th March this year, when officials visited the state-notified tomb for conservation work, it was not a temple, yet locals prevented the officials from work. When sought help, police did not provide security. In next few days, idols installed in it and the tomb was painted saffron.
NEW DELHI — A Delhi government inquiry has confirmed the illegal conversion of a Tughlaq-era tomb into a temple in the heart of the city in mid-March this year. The report submitted to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Saturday evening said that a fresh complaint was lodged to hand it back to the government for restoration. The first complaint to remove the encroachments was filed with the Police on 14th March.
On Friday, The Indian Express had broken the news about the conversion of the tomb into the temple.
“From being the tomb of an unidentified person dating back to the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413) to becoming Shiv Bhola temple two months ago, Gumti — a small, domed tomb in Safdarjung Enclave’s Humayunpur village — is facing an identity crisis. The state-notified monument built on a mound, amid buildings and a park, was painted white and saffron in March, and idols placed inside it,” said the daily in its report.
According to the report, the Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was supposed to take up restoration work of the 15th-century monument, in collaboration with the Archaeology department, last year.
On Friday itself, Deputy CM Sisodia ordered an inquiry to be carried out by the Art, Culture and Language Department of the Delhi Government. He had sought report by Saturday evening.
Findings of Govt. Enquiry Report
An official in the know of the development told IANS on Saturday that the inquiry report was prepared and sent to the Deputy Chief Minister by Saturday evening. The official, however, refused to be named.
“The monument in question is a Pathan period Tomb locally known as ‘Gumti’ situated in south west of village Humayunpur, mentioned in the ‘List of Muhammadan and Hindu Monuments’ in Delhi prepared and compiled by Archaeological Survey of India in the first quarter of 20th century,” the report said.
“It is domed building 21′ square constructed of rubble masonry plastered all around with an arched doorway on each of its four sides…,” according to the report.
The official told IANS: “A fresh complaint has been lodged with the Delhi Police and they have been requested to remove encroachments at the tomb and hand it back to the department for restoration.”
According to the official, the report also said that the tomb was listed as a heritage site and a preliminary notice for its protection was issued in 2009.
The report also said that it was one of the 18 monuments for which an MoU was signed with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) for restoration.
“When the authorities went for restoration in March, they found that it was encroached and locked. Also locals objected to works,” the official said.
On March 14, the Archaeology Department asked the Delhi Police to help with restoration works, but it did not materialise as they did not provide the force, the source said.
“At that time (March 14) it was not a temple. It was not painted saffron, there were no stairs, no idols,” the source said. “After that it was converted to a temple.”
The government report does not give any details on who encroached the monument, the official said and added that “it was most probably done by locals”.
ASI Must Restore the Tomb: Mushawarat
The tomb, which has Grade-1 listing of Archaeological Survey of India, ASI, was reportedly converted into a temple with saffron and white coat of color on the outer walls and some idols inside in March this year. However, more than a month after the illegal conversion, the government woke up only after a news report. It is also noteworthy that the tomb is not standing in a jungle or secluded area but in the middle of a residential colony.
“It is fundamental duty of ASI to act and restore the tomb,” Navaid Hamid, National President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, told Caravan Daily.
Delhi Minorities Commission Issues Notice to Delhi Police, ASI
Taking note of the media report, the Delhi Minorities Commission has also issued a notice to the Delhi Police and ASI.
Delhi minority panel chairperson Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan informed: “We have already issued a notice yesterday (4th May) to police, Delhi Archeology Department and ASI.”
Taking suo motu cognizance of the media report, Delhi Minorities Commission issued notices to the area Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi Archaeology Department and Archaeological Survey of India to enquire into the incident and file reports about the conversion. The panel has asked these authorities to reply as to what security was provided to the said tomb; has an enquiry been conducted to find out the culprits and what action has been taken against them; what action has been taken against people who stand behind this conversion and what action is being taken to revert the said monument to its original shape.
— With Inputs from IANS