The Tughlaqabad fort is one of Delhi’s most important medieval monuments, a peerless piece of the city’s historical and cultural memory. Naturally, the fort, erected in the early 14th century by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, the agency tasked with conserving historical sites. The ASI has been “beautifying” the monument in recent months – mainly clearing away wall shrubs – and, last July, it invited junior culture minister Arjun Ram Meghwal to see its work.
It’s not known what the minister made of the ASI’s conservation work since he didn’t talk about it publicly. But if he looked around the fort complex beyond where the ASI mandarins pointed him, he would have realised that it was all a sham.
For, the ASI has done everything but protect the monument.
In the past 30 years, an alleged nexus of land mafia, politicians, Delhi police and ASI officials have stolen and sold nearly half of the protected site – one piece of land at a time. No less than 11 illegal settlements, even cardboard, spice and furniture factories and workshops, have sprung up on the site, government records obtained under the Right to Information Act show.
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