Refugees swarm heritage monument | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Refugees swarm heritage monument

delhi Updated: May 09, 2012 00:49 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Over 2,500 refugees from Myanmar have landed right in front of the 13th century tomb of Sultan Garhi — an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monument — at Rangpuri area near Vasant Kunj.

The development at the tomb — the first monumental Islamic tomb in India — prompted ASI to lodge a police complaint even as the Rangpuri village panchayat passed a resolution on Tuesday for an agitation if they did not move away. Registered as 'asylum-seekers' by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), these families from Northern Rakhine state of Myanmar landed in Delhi a month ago and had camped in Vasant Vihar.

"Following complaints from people in Vasant Vihar, they voluntarily shifted to another location," said Nayana Bose, associate external relations officer, UNHCR. They started reaching the tomb from Sunday evening and trickled in till Monday too. Zia-ur-Rehman, from the group, said, "We demand a valid 'refugee' status. There is a meeting on May 15 (and) we plan to stay here till then."

Col (retd) Devinder Sehrawat from Delhi Gramin Samaj said an agitation would be launched after May 15. Heritage lovers too are appalled at the choice of location. "Their problem is genuine but how they put up at a protected monument? Why can't these people be sent to Burari grounds?" fumed Sohail Hashmi, a heritage activist.

ASI's Delhi circle chief DN Dimri said they had lodged a police complaint on Monday. Police have been deployed at the monument.