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

Counterview Desk
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.
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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

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