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Culture Minister takes stock: Extent of Red Fort damage becomes clear, tableaux targeted too

Even as the ASI refused to reveal the extent of damage at Red Fort, sources said there has been substantial damage and littering inside the premises adding that even tableaux parked there after Republic Day were targeted.

Written by Ananya Tiwari , Divya A , Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: January 28, 2021 1:26:20 pm
The entrance to Red Fort, Wednesday. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

CCTV cameras, metal detectors, glass windows and security equipment at the entrance of the Red Fort, where visitors deposit baggage and are cleared by security, lay ransacked and smashed, a day after protesters stormed the monument.

On Wednesday morning, Union Minister of Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel visited the Fort with Delhi Police officers to assess the damage.

Patel tweeted: “I visited the Red Fort this morning along with Culture Secretary (Raghvendra Singh) and ASI Director-General (V Vidyavathi). I have instructed them to prepare a report immediately and lodge an FIR.”

The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Even as the ASI refused to reveal the extent of damage, sources in ASI and the Ministry of Culture said there has been substantial damage and littering inside the premises, adding that even tableaux parked there after Republic Day were targeted.

The ASI report will be the basis for charges that the Delhi Police will press on the rioters, an ASI source said. The source said there has been damage to the flooring due to movement of tractors inside the premises, and that some walls have been scratched and scraped in the process. A part of the grill of the iconic Lahori Gate also received some dents, the source said.

Outside the premises, signs of destruction were visible everywhere. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Outside the premises, signs of destruction were visible everywhere — from the demolished entry points to the ransacked cabins of security and Central Public Works Department officials. Audio-visual equipment given for tours lay battered while shards of windows and some lights were strewn across the floors. Outside the security area lay an upturned CISF Gypsy, and just inside the tall gates of the Red Fort, a bus stood with its windows broken. The railing lining the grassed moat lay tilted and a few bare pieces of chairs and railings lay beneath.

Red Fort has been shut since January 19 after cases of bird flu were confirmed inside its premises. On Wednesday, ASI declared it will remain shut from January 28 to January 31.

Damage at ITO

A visual assessment by the Public Works Department (PWD) revealed railings were broken in several areas in ITO and Netaji Subhash Marg, though the roads were not damaged. Officials said stainless steel railing, around 150 metres long, on the central verge near Vikas Bhawan at ITO had fallen on the ground and a few pots too had been damaged along the stretch.

“When barricades break, there would obviously be some damage to the footpaths and plants as well. Immediate repair work has started. Our teams are on the ground cleaning up the area, getting rid of debris,” said a PWD official.

But it would take longer to replace the railings. “General repair work will take 8-10 days. A tender will be floated to replace the railings that are missing or have been completely damaged. The tender process alone would take a few weeks,” said the official.

Similar damage was seen at Netaji Subhash Marg. In some portions, an official said, the median had also been broken.

On Wednesday, ASI declared Red Fort would remain shut from January 28 to January 31. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

A senior official said, “Since the damage occurred in the protests, we will intimate the police about the same. We are preparing a report on the damages. After the assessment, we will float a tender. It will take around three months for repair and replacement work.”

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