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A Tughlaq era tomb converted to a temple? Delhi govt orders probe

The state-notified tomb in Humayunpur was converted into a temple two months ago and was painted in white and saffron colours, a report said.

delhi Updated: May 05, 2018 12:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi tomb,Manish Sisodia,Delhi govt
A tomb in Safdarjung Enclave's Humayunpur village was allegedly painted white and saffron and Hindu idols were placed inside it, in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Friday sought a detailed report into the alleged conversion of a 15th century tomb in Humayunpur in south Delhi into a temple this March .

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) list of ancient structures and monuments says the unknown tomb belongs to the Tughlaq era and is notified by the municipal corporation as a tomb.

But a report in the Indian Express said the state-notified tomb was converted into a temple two months ago and was painted in white and saffron colours. Statues of Hindu gods were also placed inside it, it said.

An order issued by the deputy CM’s office on Friday said causing damage and harm to a heritage property is against the law and a serious offence.

It is the state archaeology department’s duty to ensure the protection of heritage monuments listed under it and take strict action in case of a lapse.

“The reported incident should be handled with zero tolerance by the department as it not only violates heritage-related laws but is also an attempt to disturb peace and harmony in the area. Secretary (art, culture and language) to provide a detailed report to me by tomorrow (Saturday) with details of the incident and action taken by her,” Sisodia said in the order.

Listed as tomb

According to Maulvi Zafar Hasan’s compilation in 1929, the structure was a tomb, said an official privy to the redevelopment project.“The state archaeology department had planned its restoration along with 17 other structures last year. The task was assigned to INTACH. However, it couldn’t be undertaken following resistance by locals,” he said on condition of anonymity.

One of the members of the restoration team said that till two-three years ago, the ‘gomti’ (word for small domed structure in local dialect) was used to junk or old furniture and remained locked.

“It was full of old furniture and other discarded stuff. There was a ‘shivling’ like structure inside. But as per Zafar’s listing, it is a tomb. It was locked and hence the restorers needed police protection as no one could enter a locked premises,” he said.

Till two months ago, it was not painted, he said.

“Whenever the department tried to take over its possession, residents opposed. The police were informed several times but that did not help also,” he said.

Vikas Maloo, head of archaeology at the state archaeological department, said he was aware of the violation and a police complaint was registered.

“In March, we approached the police and a formal complaint was lodged with the DCP. However, action couldn’t be initiated due to non-availablity of adequate forces,” he said. Appropriate action would be taken as soon as police security is available in the next two-three days, he said.

Locals say temple

When Hindustan Times visited the site in Humayunpur village on Friday, locals said the painting and placing of the idols was done in March. But they claimed the structure had been a temple for several years and there is no recorded history of when the use was changed.

They pointed to a metallic trident atop the dome, which they said was centuries old. “There is an old marble which mentions it was a Bhola Shiv Mandir as far back as in 1971. The trident as well as the tiles with images of Hindu gods are even in older pictures that have appeared in media reports,” said Ranbir Singh, the vice-president of the local residents’ welfare association.

First Published: May 05, 2018 12:42 IST