Ordering an inquiry into the damage caused to the 15th century tomb in Safdarjung’s Humayunpur, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a letter to the Delhi government’s Art, Culture and Language (ACL) Department said, “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”.
Sisodia took cognizance of a report in The Indian Express on Friday about how Gumti, the small domed Tughlaq-era tomb, which is a state-notified heritage structure, had been turned into a temple, with idols placed inside, in March.
The Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was supposed to restore the monument last year in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology. Vikas Maloo, Head of Office (Department of Archaeology) said, “When INTACH and our department went to the site in June last year, there was trouble by the residents, so we approached police…they asked us to wait. When we approached the monument again in March, we were told that due to sealing drive in Delhi, the police force could not be deployed here. We also wrote a letter to DCP (South) regarding this.”
DCP (South) Romil Baaniya said, “The department concerned wrote a letter which requested us to provide police protection as and when required to officials of the department and INTACH who are undertaking conservation work of the monument. But they never approached us when exactly they needed assistance. So far, we have not got any information on the future steps but whenever it comes, we will provide due assistance.”
The Archaeology Department, which falls under the ACL, has submitted a report to them, said Maloo. In his letter, Sisodia said, “It is the duty of the State Archaeology department to ensure the protection of heritage monuments listed under them and take strict action in case of a lapse.” He has directed Manisha Saxena, secretary of ACL department, to submit a detailed report by Saturday.
A day after The Indian Express visited the tomb, which has been painted white and saffron, the two benches that bear the name of the area’s BJP Councillor Radhika Abrol Phogat, had been removed. A fibre glass has been placed at the entrance of the temple. “In the morning, some people came and removed the chairs and covered the entrance of the temple,” said Anil (52), a resident of the area.