Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Delhi: Archaeologists vs. Wakf Board

A little controversy in the news right now; The Hindustan Times did a write-up on a debate over heritage structure ownership in Delhi. Click on the link for the full article.

The Delhi State Archaeological Dept. issued notifications for the protection and conservation of 39 monuments in Delhi. The Delhi Wakf Board has objected to 25 of these monuments, on the grounds that they are already wakf and hence should not be treated as "mere monuments". A wakf or waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islam, like land or a building for religious or charitable purposes (thanks Wikipedia).

Clashes between archaeologists and those who live on or around monuments and sites are not uncommon. It's impossible to save everything and keep monuments untouched, and I don't know any archaeologists who think that way. However, it is important that the monuments that we do have are well looked after.

I don't know what kind of conservation scheme the Archaeological Dept. has proposed, and I don't know if or how it'll interfere with the religious uses of the wakf, but I do hope they can find some kind of compromise. People still live in and use a lot of the medieval monuments around Delhi and Haryana, and frankly, it isn't always possible to relocate them.

There should be a way to protect monuments, and simultaneously ensure that the continued usage of them is sustainable.

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