Two days after the deadline for eviction and demolition in Tughlaqabad village expired, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has still not decided when to take removal action, affecting approximately 70,000 people.
Last week, Hindustan Times had first reported on the issue, after ASI asked the villagers to leave, bag and baggage.
The ASI notice came after the Supreme Court vacated a stay by the Delhi High Court on demolition in the vicinity of the ASI-protected Tughlaqabad Fort. The 14th century fort had been built by Muhammed bin Tughlaq. It was around the fort that the present-day village came up.
Although villagers heaved a sigh of relief since no action was taken after the expiry of the notice period, they are eagerly awaiting a hearing in the Supreme Court.
The date for this hearing is expected to be known when the court reopens on Monday.
In 1995, the Delhi government transferred approximately 2,800 bighas of land to ASI. In 2001, when ASI attempted eviction, villagers approached the Delhi High Court, which gave them a stay.
Meanwhile, villagers had been drumming up political support for their cause during last week. They approached several authorities, including Sheila Dikshit, Delhi chief minister and Kumari Selja, Union Minister for Culture (ASI comes under this ministry).
Dr BR Mani, spokesperson, ASI, said, “Required action as per the Supreme Court order would be taken by the Superintending Archaeologist, Delhi Circle, with the help of local administration and police.” He, however, did not specify a date for the “action”.
The ground level staff that HT spoke with, however, said things were out of their purview.
“Day in and day out, high-level meetings are being held. We are awaiting instructions from senior officials.”
As of now, the fate of Tughlaq’s village hangs in balance.