HC notices to Punjab, SGPC over preservation of ‘Jahaz Haveli’
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday put Punjab government on notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the respondents to take steps for preservation and protection of the Haveli Todar Mal (Jahaz Mahal), Fatehgarh Sahib.
The petition filed by advocate HC Arora also sought direction for removing alleged illegal constructions by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on the haveli premises. The response from the state and SGPC has been sought by March 17, besides asking the SGPC to maintain status quo.
The court was told that Todar Mal was a 17th century local businessman of Sirhind. He was a Diwan in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan, the governor of Sirhind, under Mughal Empire. Diwan Todar Mal had bought a small piece of land for cremating bodies of Mata Gujri, the mother, and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh in 1704, by paying an exorbitant price to the owner of the land.
It was submitted in the court that he had to cover the whole piece of land with gold coins (ashrafis) in a vertical position, as he was asked to vertically place gold coins on the land and only then the piece of land so covered by gold coins would be given to him for the cremation. Todar Mal later made arrangements for their cremation.
The court was apprised that the ‘Jahaz Mahal’ is presently lying in dilapidated condition, despite being declared protected monument. The court was requested to direct the government to acquire the land and building and appoint some agency for undertaking its preservation and restoration work.