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Saffron Makes Its Way: A Tuglaq-Era Tomb In Delhi Becomes Temple In Just Two Months

Two saffron-coloured benches near the tomb bear BJP councillor's name.

New Delhi: In a bizarre saffronisation bid, a State-notified monument which dates back to the Tuglaq dynasty in Safdarjung Enclave’s Humayunpur village in South Delhi has now turned into a Shiv Bhola temple. This transformation happened in two months’ time. Two saffron-coloured benches near the tomb have the name of BJP councillor from Safdarjung Enclave, Radhika Abrol Phogat.

The tomb, which belongs to some lesser known Tuglaq nobleman, was painted white and saffron in March and idols were placed inside it, reports The Indian Express.

Any sort of meddling with the monument amounts to violation of the Citizen Charter of the Department of Archaeology, which states that one “cannot paint, draw or whitewash any wall in and around the monument” and “cannot hamper or spoil the originality of the monument”.

Despite repeated attempts, Delhi government’s Department of Archaeology could not be reached for a comment, said the report. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told the newspaper, “I have no information about this. I will ask the department concerned to conduct an inquiry and send me the report.”

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was entrusted with the work of restoration of the 15th-century monument with the help of the Department of Archaeology last year. Ajay Kumar, projects director, INTACH-Delhi said, “This was a locked monument and we were unable to start work there due to resistance from residents… we went with police but it didn’t work out. Now it’s become a temple and we’ve lost the monument.”

Denying any information on the subject, Phogat told The Indian Express, “The structure was turned into a temple without my knowledge, consent or support. It was done with the connivance of the previous BJP councillor. I objected too, but it’s a sensitive issue. With whatever that is going on in the country, one can’t touch a temple. The benches with my name were initially in the park.”

Swapna Liddle, convener, INTACH Delhi chapter, told the newspaper, “Turning a monument into a religious structure is a land grab issue… the easiest thing to do is to turn it into a mandir or a mazar. We are not gatekeepers of the monument, we restore them. The protection has to be done by the state and then it should be handed over to us.”

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