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The Tughlaq period tomb before (L) and after its conversion into a temple in New Delhi.

The Delhi government of Aam Aadmi Party has ordered probe into the conversion of the tomb into a temple. Before it becomes another Babri, the government must immediately remove idols from the tomb.

Caravan News

NEW DELHI: Right under the nose of the Delhi and central governments, a centuries-old tomb has been converted into a Hindu temple. As the incident came to light through media on Friday, the Delhi government of Aam Aadmi Party has ordered a probe. Meanwhile, Muslims leaders have demanded immediate restoration of the 14th century tomb in the heart of India’s national capital.

ASI Must Restore the Tomb: Mushawarat

The tomb, which has Grade-1 listing of Archaeological Survey of India, ASI, was reportedly converted into a temple with saffron and white coat of color on the outer walls and some idols inside in March this year. However, more than a month after the illegal conversion, the government woke up only after a news report. It is also noteworthy that the tomb is not standing in a jungle or secluded area but in the middle of a residential colony.

“It is fundamental duty of ASI to act and restore the tomb,” Navaid Hamid, National President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, told Caravan Daily.

Delhi Minorities Commission Issues Notice to Delhi Police, ASI

Taking note of the media report, the Delhi Minorities Commission has also issued a notice to the Delhi Police and ASI.

Delhi minority panel chairperson Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan informed: “We have already issued a notice yesterday (4th May) to police, Delhi Archeology Department and ASI.”

Taking suo motu cognizance of the media report, Delhi Minorities Commission issued notices to the area Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi Archaeology Department and Archaeological Survey of India to enquire into the incident and file reports about the conversion. The panel has asked these authorities to reply as to what security was provided to the said tomb; has an enquiry been conducted to find out the culprits and what action has been taken against them; what action has been taken against people who stand behind this conversion and what action is being taken to revert the said monument to its original shape.

Following the uproar, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia on Friday ordered an enquiry into the alleged conversion of the round-domed small tomb at Safdarjung Enclave’s Humayunpur village and directed the Art, Culture and Language (ACL) Department secretary to submit a report by Saturday.

Delhi Govt. Orders Probe

In his order to the department, Sisodia is believed to have said that causing damage and harm to a heritage property was against the law and a serious offence.

“It is the duty of the state Archeology Department to ensure the protection of heritage monuments listed under them and take strict action in case of a lapse,” Sisodia reportedly said in his order.

He said that the reported incident should be handled with zero tolerance by the department as it not only violated heritage related laws but also was an attempt to disturb peace and harmony in the area.

On Friday, The Indian Express had broken the news about the conversion of the tomb into the temple.

“From being the tomb of an unidentified person dating back to the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413) to becoming Shiv Bhola temple two months ago, Gumti — a small, domed tomb in Safdarjung Enclave’s Humayunpur village — is facing an identity crisis. The state-notified monument built on a mound, amid buildings and a park, was painted white and saffron in March, and idols placed inside it,” said the daily in its report titled “Tomb To Temple In Two Months: In South Delhi, A Monument Changes Colours”.

According to the report, the Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was supposed to take up restoration work of the 15th-century monument, in collaboration with the Archaeology department, last year.

Besides some idols, two saffron-coloured benches also placed inside the tomb bear the name of BJP councillor from Safdarjung Enclave, Radhika Abrol Phogat.

However, Phogat told the English daily that the conversion was done without her knowledge and the benches carrying her name were lifted from the adjacent part.

“The structure was turned into a temple without my knowledge, consent or support. It was done with the connivance of the previous BJP councillor. I objected too, but it’s a sensitive issue. With whatever that is going on in the country, one can’t touch a temple. The benches with my name were initially in the park.”

In its 2010 notification, the state’s Urban Development department had notified the tomb known as Gumti as one of the 767 heritage sites, and accorded it a grade-I listing. In 2014, the Archaeology department also notified it again as a heritage site.

Installation of idols in Babri Masjid 70 years ago

In 1948, exactly 70 years ago from now, a similar incident had occurred when some idols were planted inside the then living Babri Masjid in Ayodhya of Uttar Pradesh. When Muslims came to the mosque to offer early morning prayers (Fajr Namaz), they were shocked to see idols there. They informed the police and the rest is history. The 16th century mosque, built on the instructions of Mughal emperor Babur, seized to be a mosque in practical terms from that day – Muslims were prevented to offer Namaz there and in 1992 it was razed to ground by a massive Hindu mob. Its title suit is still pending in the Supreme Court of India.

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