Topra Kalan, a village in Haryana, wants back its heritage property - the Ashoka pillar inside the Ferozshah Kotla complex that was brought to Delhi about 650 years ago.
Of the several Ashoka pillars - built during the reign of King Ashok (273 - 236 BC) along with buildings, stupas and monasteries for spreading Buddhism - one was built at Topra, once a thriving hub of Buddism in the area.
The information boards at the Ferozshah Kotla put up by the Archaeologial Survey of India (ASI) give a detailed description about how and when the pillar was brought to Delhi from Topra, a village 200 kilometres from the national capital.
During his rule over the Sultanate of Delhi, Ferozshah Tughlaq (1309-1388) brought it to Delhi and installed it inside his citadel, now known as the ruins of Kotla Ferozshah. It has been in Delhi since then.
With a dual aim of attracting tourist from world over and spreading the message of Buddha, the villagers are planning a park, wherein they want to re-install the Ashoka pillar after bringing it back from Delhi. The villagers plan replica of other Ashoka pillars for the proposed landscaped garden.
The gram panchayat of the village Topra Kalan in Yamuna Nagar district has recently passed a resolution to this effect and also expressed willingness to donate two acres of village land for the park. They have also formed a registered society for the purpose.
The resolution - HT has a copy - signed by sarpanch Ramkali (she goes by a single name) mentions that the authorities be requested to return the Ashoka pillar to the village.
"We have written to the district collector and sent him a copy of the resolution," Ramkali told over phone from her village.
Sidhartha Gauri from The Buddhist Forum: Voice of Dhamma, a religious NGO working in the area, said, "If India can ask back Kohinoor, why can't Topra claim its own property? We plan to write a request letter to the ASI soon."
However, ASI spokesperson BR Mani said, "The ASI act does not permit any such transfer of archaeological monuments because it has become a part of history where it is now situated for last 600 years."
They can always go ahead with a replica (of the pillar), Mani added.