The news that there will be no resident protestors at Jantar Mantar should bring a smile to the city’s heritage lovers.
The change of venue for protest from Boat Club to Jantar Mantar, on Parliament Street near Connaught Place, was a source of heartburn for manyas it exposed the 18th century heritage complex to vandalism.
Thanks to its location, the Jantar Mantar complex has bore the brunt of hundreds of demonstrations, protests, rallies and even dharnas (sit-ins) year after year.
Mostly from rural areas, participants did not think twice before abusing the monument, known for being a unique astronomical observatory. Demonstrators at times broke the valuable parts of the observatory’s built instruments.
The most shameful of such violations came in November 2009, as hundreds of farmers assembled just outside the centrally protected monument to express dissent at the government’s sugarcane price policy. The protest ran wild with drunken demontrators even urinating and defecating inside the structure.
Anisha Shekhar Mukherji, a conservation architect involved with the restoration project for monument, had earlier said, “Jantar Mantar is a unique monument as it offers scientific and astronomical heritage. ”
Officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had been pushing the issue of changing the protest venue with the authorities for last two years. “The restriction will put a stop to encroachment and vandalism,” said a senior ASI official.
Police have removed all the people who had been camping around Jantar Mantar.