Civil Society Group Condemns Demolition of Historic Sites in Mehrauli

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Civil Society Group Condemns Demolition of Historic Sites in Mehrauli

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NEW DELHI: In response to the demolition of the ancient Akhundji Mosque, an orphanage, and a graveyard in Mehrauli by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), civil society group ‘Sheher’ has strongly condemned the action. During a protest meeting at the Press Club of India, members of the group criticized the authorities for carrying out demolitions without prior communication with the caretakers of these sites.

They refuted the government’s claim that these sites were encroachments on public land, asserting that the structures, including the mosque and graveyard, predate the modern city and continue to be part of the lived heritage of Delhi. Speakers emphasized that these sites hold significant historical and cultural value, representing places of belonging for different communities across time.

The recent destruction in Mehrauli is seen as part of a pattern of demolitions undertaken by authorities in the city over the past year. Members of the civil society group highlighted that such actions violate people’s rights to life, employment, and safe housing.

Historical narratives provide perspective on the age and significance of the Akhundji Mosque, which was repaired in 1853-54. The DDA claims the demolition was due to encroachment in a reserved forest area, but historians refute this, stating that the mosque predates the notification of the area as a reserved forest in 1994.

Concerned citizens demand a halt to all demolitions and call for guarantees from government bodies to preserve the cultural and built heritage of the city. They emphasize the importance of listening to the voices of local communities and standing against authoritarian modes of urban governance.

The meeting was addressed by various speakers, including Advocate Anas Tanweer Farooqi, historian Uma Chakravarti, and members of civil rights and housing rights group