The New Mughals set up office at Red Fort

Red_Fort

Red_Fort

The Director General (DG) of the ASI has decided to take the seat once forcefully vacated by the unfortunate Last Grand Moughal, Bhahdur Shah Zafar. The DG is the new Sarakri Mughal, a new habitu, who has turned Red Fort into a habitat.

TILL DATE we have seen fake god-men, squatters and land grabbers occupying the prime lands in cities and towns. We have also seen the public occupying government lands. However, populating the historical monuments by ASI officials in the name of better services and protection of an old edifice is a new phenomenon, a new depth to which our bureaucracy could fall. It is like the old adage – Rakshak bane Bhakshak.

Now the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India has decided to take the seat once forcefully vacated by the unfortunate Last Grand Mughal, Bhahdur Shah Zafar. The DG is the new Sarakri Mughal, a new habitué, who has turned Red Fort into a habitat.

Inside the colonial buildings at the 17th Century World Heritage Site, the ASI DG Gautam Sengupta and senior officials have developed two-bedroom sets. The Mughal building of Naubat Khana has been turned into an office. These quarters have undergone a makeover. Fancy tile-work, granite flooring, wooden interiors and air-conditioners are few of the facilities at their disposal at the new residents now.

These are the officials who are supposed to implement the policy of renovation and protection of historic sites.

If the memory of the public is not too short, let them recall the recent amendment in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010. The amendment states: “No permission including carrying out any public work or project essential to the public or other constructions, shall be granted in any prohibited area on or after the date on which the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2010 receives the assent of the President.”

In 2003, the Army was also asked to vacate the Red Fort. There are guest houses located inside the historical building, but they belonged to the British period. It is interesting to note that all annexes for the concerned officers of Archeology, around the world, are temporary in nature.

According to Gurmeet Rai, conservationist and Director, Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative, “The spirit of the monument and its historic value should never be compromised when changes are made to it. Monuments should be put to adaptive reuse, officials should not abuse it.” The Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the Red Fort passed by the UNESCO says while the colonial structures can be used by officials, the Mughal buildings should be left untouched.

In violations of established precedents and an insult to the sacred memories and public interests, Naubat Khana, which houses the site manager’s office, has been redone with latest gadgets and new lavatories. Will these new incursions and innovation not damage the structure? They have put up a huge transformer next to the Hammam. Will it not pose a huge threat to the building in case of any malfunction?

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Rivers – A dirge to the divine

The Hindan river brought back enchanting childhood memories of fresh water, country boats and the burst of flora and fauna. But the sight the river had to offer me on a recent visit, was very different.

THE OTHER day, I was crossing the river Hindan near the capital Delhi. I stopped at the bridge, as its banks have always fascinated me. I love to delve into history and this was the place where, in 1857, the great convulsion of Indian history took place. It had been witness to crucial moments that wrote the future course of the country‘s destiny. It was the place where mutineers had gathered to take up positions against the advancing British regiment. Mirza Abu Bakr, the cowardly son of Emperor Bhahdur Shah Zafar, was in command of the Indian army. He fled the battlefield as soon a few shots were fired from the English side. A battle was lost without a fight.

I remember from my childhood experiences, a stop at the bank of river Hindan where the transport facility had failed at the bridge and all passengers had to disembark till repairs were completed. The Hindan was overflowing with fresh water; there were plenty of fish and fisherman and a burst of flora and fauna at the banks of the river. There were country boats sailing past. All the irritation at the disruption of the journey had disappeared before the enchanting beauty of the river. But the sight the river had to offer me on my recent visit, was very different – it was only a dry river bed, with parched pieces of earth and a few carcasses of pigs and dogs. It was a pathetic sight.

Where had the beauty and the water gone? Maybe a seasonal dry spell could be an excuse now, but was this case with every river? Those were the thoughts crowding my mind when I sat down to write a dirge for the river. Rivers – be it the Amazon or the Mississippi, Danube or Seine, Thames or own Ganges, Jamuna or Jhelum – have supported, nourished, nurtured and shaped the development of our civilisations since time immemorial. Their moving waters create beautiful landscapes, canyons, gorges and fertile deltas and basins. They bringing up new islands and have also forced lands to disappear from the earth’s surface.

They give us a feel of freedom, freshness and a larger life. Their wild flow is immune to petty thoughts. They know no boundaries and they refuse to accept the divisions between man and man. When did you last crossed a river at a leisurely place? Do you remember the full moon at the river bank? If you have been lucky enough to witness such beautiful sights, they would certain be the source of recurring visions. Find time to sit at river banks. Enjoy their ravishing beauty. See the placid and pleasant world of green and blue as the murmuring water flows – sometimes fast sometimes slow. See a kite flying high up in the blue sky suddenly take a dive into the river, catch a fish with its claws and disappear back up majestically. See the twittering birds through the undergrowth and listen to the koyel singing from a distant neem tree on the opposite side of the bank. She would be charging nothing for the most beautiful song on earth. The bounties of nature are free for everyone. Let there be takers.

Rivers are goddesses; they are the symbols of spirituality and they are divine. Their music has given birth to the ‘sargam’ of life. The devotees worship them and immerse themselves in their sacred water. They wash their sins in the holy water – this water that is the fountain of spirituality, is today being polluted with every conceivable impurity. Rivers have been most benevolent and kind to us, yet we have inflicted the unkindest cut to their existence. They impart beauty and we offer them death. What a thankless reward!

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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