Skip to main content

How can a commercial company cater to prejudices of RSS for interpreting and trifling Red Fort's structure?

The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) has come down heavily on the Government of India's move to hand over the Red Fort to the Dalmiya Group for maintenance in exchange for advertising and revenue collection rights. In a strongly worded press release, SAHMAT has questioned the government's commitment to protecting Indian heritage structures.
The statement says, "The present regime in power has an unsavoury past in regard to our heritage. It felt no compunction when its followers destroyed a 450 years old monument of architectural importance in 1992 just because it was a mosque." SAHMAT states that its greatest fear is, "...that a commercial company will try to cater to the kind of beliefs and prejudices the RSS and its followers represent in interpreting and then trifling with the structure of the Red Fort."
SAHMAT questions the Dalmiya Group's credentials in terms of experience in maintaining historical structures, saying, "... people should be perturbed when it is announced that the safekeeping of the historic Red Fort of Delhi from which India’s independence was proclaimed by Jawaharlal Nehru on 15 August 1947, and has always been a symbol of modern Indian nationalism since 1857 is being entrusted to a cement company, Dalmia Bharat with no known credentials in the work of architectural preservation or in heritage-management."
The statement has been signed by 126 scholars and activists demands that the agreement between the Government of India and the Dalmiya group be receded immediately and the upkeep of heritage structures be handled only the Archaeological Society of India.

Text of the SAHMAT statement:

The Indian people cherish their great heritage that exists in physical terms in its monuments as well as the huts and tools of ordinary men and women of the past. What remains from the past needs not only to be faithfully preserved, but also correctly interpreted.
The present regime in power has an unsavoury past in regard to our heritage. It felt no compunction when its followers destroyed a 450 years old monument of architectural importance in 1992 just because it was a mosque. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has long been propagating the cause of declaring all major medieval monuments, including the Taj Mahal and Delhi’s Red Fort as Hindu structures.
It is, therefore, right that people should be perturbed when it is announced that the safekeeping of the historic Red Fort of Delhi from which India’s independence was proclaimed by Jawaharlal Nehru on 15 August 1947, and has always been a symbol of modern Indian nationalism since 1857 is being entrusted to a cement company, Dalmia Bharat with no known credentials in the work of architectural preservation or in heritage-management. It has been announced that they are expected to “construct landscape”, etc., and also maintain an “interpretation centre”.
It is surely a slur on the Archaeological Survey of India, the legal guardian of all monuments that it is held to be incapable of maintaining a major national monument like the Red Fort. But what is most troubling is the fear that a commercial company will try to cater to the kind of beliefs and prejudices the RSS and its followers represent in interpreting and then trifling with the structure of the Red Fort.
It is, therefore, essential that the agreement between the Government and Dalmia Bharat be rescinded, and the Red Fort, as well as all our major monuments be duly protected and preserved solely by the Archaeological Survey of India, to which the duty is assigned by the Protected Monuments Act, 1958.
---
Top signatories include historians Irfan Habib and DN Jha, artist Vivan Sundaram, economist Prabhat Patnaik, cinematographer MK Raina, conservationist Sohail Hashmi, musician Madangopal Singh, academics Zoya Hasan and CP Bhambri, and journalist Anand K Sahay

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.