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Squabble over heritage structures

delhi Updated: Mar 08, 2010 23:11 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
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Two government bodies, the Delhi State Archaeological Department and the Delhi Wakf Board, are at loggerheads over the fate of several heritage monuments in Delhi.

Of the 39 monuments, for which the former has issued a preliminary notification for protection and conservation, the Delhi Wakf Board has raised objections over 25 heritage structures over ownership issue. The Wakf Board claims that these monuments are already notified as Wakf properties, so the department cannot notify it again.

“We have received objections from the Delhi Wakf Board for 25 of the 39 monuments,” confirmed Archaeology Department’s Surveyor Jaspal Singh. However, he refused to elaborate any further.

The Delhi State Archaeological Department had issued preliminary notifications under the provisions of the Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 2004 for 39 monuments in July, August and September 2009 and January 2010.

The Delhi Wakf Board has raised objections over the tomb of Mohammed Quli Khan and Bagichi Ki Masjid (both in Mehrauli); Haji Langa’s Gumbad and a domed building (both in sector 4, R K Puram); Munda Gumbad and tomb of Shaikh Salahuddin Darwesh and Majlis Khana (both in Sheikh Sarai village) among other monuments, sources said.

A Wakf board official, on conditions of anonymity said, “These and several other properties were notified in 1970 under the Central Wakf Act. If there were any objections within one year, they were taken care of, but now, it is identified as Wakf property.”

“What we want is that these tombs, gumbads (domes) and mosques should remain as wakf (the granting or dedication of property in trust for a pious purpose) and not be used as mere monuments,” he added

The official also said the Wakf Board wanted the government to allow regular prayers at all heritage properties listed by the Wakf Board.

Government officials have started ascertaining actual ownership of the land, irrespective of notifications by the Wakf Board or by the Archaeological department.

Director of the State Archaeological Department Keshav Chandra is slated to hear all objections at a pre-decided hearing date soon, thus paving way for a final notification of these monuments.