Encroachment on land belonging to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is nothing new, but this time round heritage monuments have been encroached on in Mehrauli area.
Bagichi Masjid, housing the Majar of Baba Ajam Shah, in DDA’s Mehrauli Complex will soon be notified as a protected monument by the state archaeological department.
But when HT visited the place, we saw that a stone wall had been painted over white and green and the insides have been turned into living quarters with nails for curtains and electric wires drilled into the fabric of the late Mughal era structure.
One Imam Ibrahim teaches 20-children there.
“This is a madrassa. We are staying here since the last 10 months. I am a salaried employee of the Delhi Waqf Board,” Ibrahim said.
But Waqf Board officials sought to distance themselves. Consultant to Delhi Waqf Board Jamil Murtja said: “We have asked them only to offer namaz and not to stay there. We will take action if we get any complaint.”
One more unprotected monument — Takya of Kamli Shah — in the neighbourhood has met the same fate.
This structure situated atop a small hillock on the outskirts of Mehrauli village while going from the Dadadham Jain temple side, has been altered drastically and only a small stone arch remains as evidence of the late Mughal era structure.
Incidentally, both the DDA and Delhi Waqf Board have put up signs side by side, claiming “trespassers would be prosecuted”.
In both cases, DDA officials hardly seem to be bothered. “The Waqf Board has laid claim on the land and we are getting it clarified from the local revenue records,” is all that a DDA Horticulture official said.
Concerned over the degradation and the increased encroachment in the area, prominent residents of the area — photographer Raghu Rai and his conservation architect wife Gurmeet Rai last month wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
“It is not just an issue of encroachment but damage to heritage monuments. There are other encroachments too, like a temple on DDA land. There is also this problem of rubble dumped into our area,” Rai said.
“The DDA is least bothered about these things. So we approached the CM. She had assured us that the issue would be looked into after the elections are over,” Rai told HT.
Another prominent resident, a Muslim gentleman, echoed the sentiment. “I have talked to these people in the mosques. They are not mullahs but just land-grabbers. Like me, there are many Muslims in the area and all of us are angry at the development. Every single government department is involved in this,” the resident, who did not wished to be named, said.