Activists slam Govt-Dalmiya deal about Red Fort Maintenance

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: May 2, 2018
The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) has come down heavily against the government'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 questions 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."

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 signed by over a hundred activists demands that the agreement between the government and the Dalmiya group be recided immediately and the upkeep of heritage structures be handled only the the Archaeological Society of India. The entire statement may be read here:

SAHMAT Statement on handing over Red Fort to Dalmia Bharat

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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Sashi Kumar
Ram Rahman 
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Geeta Kapur   
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Arjun Dev
B.P. Sahu
D. N. Jha
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K M Shrimali   
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R. C. Thakran    
Shireen Moosvi
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R. P. Bahuguna 
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Kesavan Veluthat    
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Shalin Jain      
H. C. Satyarthi
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Arun Bandopadhyaya
S. Z. H. Jafri      
C. P. Chandrasekhar 
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