Updated: September 4, 2021 3:14:59 pm
The Delhi Legislative Assembly building could open up to the public more often once a room that houses the “gallows” found on the premises is renovated, said Speaker Ram Niwas Goel.
The building was constructed in 1912 and housed the Central Legislative Assembly between 1913 and 1926. Goel claims the building fell into disuse after 1926 and the British administrators decided to hold trials for “revolutionaries” in the building. Touch-screen kiosks are also in the offing, explaining details of the freedom struggle and the Central Legislative Assembly, he said. Facilities will be set up to screen a film on the history of the Assembly and its members since 1912.
A tunnel, the opening to which is at one end of the Assembly Hall, could also be open to the public, he said. The tunnel, which runs in a horse-shoe shape along the Assembly Hall, was cleaned and lights were installed a few years ago. Goel said the tunnel transported “revolutionaries” from the Red Fort to the building, which had then functioned as a court under the British. Prisoners were tried within the hall and convicts were sent to the gallows. Where Goel said the gallows stood, now lies a room strewn with files and papers.
The PWD has prepared a design for the room’s renovation, he said, and it is likely to be ready by August 15 next year. The Legislative Assembly is currently open to public on Independence Day and Republic Day.
As for the tunnel, the horse-shoe shape will be retained, he said. The covering to the “tunnel” was open on Friday. Located right across the room from the Speaker’s chair in the Assembly Hall, is a pit, just high enough to crouch inside. It appears to branch off in three directions, none of which were high enough to stand in or walk into. While one of the three branches comes from the Red Fort, the other heads to the gallows, and the third is in the direction of the entry to the Assembly Hall, which might have functioned as a court, Goel said.
Other officials at the Legislative Assembly however surmised that the “tunnel” could have just been a horse-shoe-shaped structure installed by the British for insulation. The distance between the Red Fort and the Delhi Legislative Assembly is now a little over 6 km.
Rana Safvi, city chronicler and writer, said that it was very improbable that a tunnel would connect the Red Fort and the Assembly. “The British had enough power then and did not need tunnels to hide and transport prisoners. Though it is difficult to comment without seeing the structure, the ‘tunnel’ might have had a more mundane purpose,” she said. The construction of the Red Fort was completed in 1648, while the Assembly was built only in 1912, she said.
The building, though around 109 years old, is not protected by the ASI. ASI sources said Delhi government officials had not approached them recently to study or figure out the details of the structures they found in the building.
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