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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Infra-Building of the Demolition Kind

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What’s it with Indians and their zeal to demolish their own historical monuments? The procedure is as simple as it is inane. Step 1: Identify the land you need to occupy. Step 2: Establish the ‘fact’ that the structure standing on the land is ‘alien’ and shouldn’t be there. Step 3. Remove the structure. Step 4: Set up your own structure in the once-‘occupied’ land. It turns out that even members of the Indian Administrative Service are prone to such demolition desires. Udit Prakash Rai, during his tenure as Delhi Jal Board (DJB) CEO, demolished a 15th-century Pathan mansion – the only standing structure of Khizrabad, the city founded by Khizr Khan of the Sayyid dynasty (which no one remembers despite not being ‘removed’ in school textbooks) – near Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area, and then built his official residence there.There is no evidence to point that Rai had, along with five DJB engineers who helped him and have also been served a notice by Delhi government’s vigilance department, loudly exclaimed from the top of the derelict structure, ‘Mera kamraa idhar hi banega!’ But the fact that the monument was about to be handed over to the archaeological department of the DJB for restoration gives the whole business the air of official apathy. Political parties like Trinamool Congress and BJP are upset. Rai, on his part, is in Mizoram.

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