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March 5th, 2017

Wilfully destroying our heritage

This morning, I went for a run in Lutyens Delhi.

As I was slowly jogging past Safdarjung’s Tomb, on impulse, I decided to take a detour and be a tourist for a while.

I haven’t visited Safdarjung’s Tomb since 2010 during the Commonwealth Games, when my sister and I were the only visitors, wandering round this sublime monument on our own.

Today, very early on a Sunday morning, I had for company a couple doing their pre-wedding shoot and their 2 photographers.

So, all blissed-out at the idea of having this magnificent place pretty much to myself, off I wandered.

And my heart broke.

The Tomb has been graffiti-ed upon, virtually all over.

Ugly graffiti has been scrawled all over the inner rooms, the outside walls, and beautiful arched caravanserai below – mindless scratching and painting and writing.

Everywhere.

I filmed one antechamber, below.

Please, please watch it and then all of you who live here in Delhi, give me names/emails/mobiles of the people I should send this to.

For God’s sake this is a monument of national importance, and it is being wilfully defaced.

Where are the guards?

What are my taxes being used for?

Given the extent of the damage – and the outside walls are defaced too – this implies that either there are no guards on duty (there was no-one there when I was there this morning) or that they stand idly by, watching this devastation take place.

Please, I repeat, anyone who can give me the names of people to whom I can send this – do let me know.  I have more footage – lots more – and really want to get this to someone in a position to do something.

ASI?

Which central government ministries?  Tourism?

Who in the Delhi government?

Something needs to be done, and fast.

And India grumbles that it doesn’t get the tourist footfalls it feels it should have…

 

And by the way, in these worrying days of pumped-up nationalism, let me state one thing loud and clear.  I may not be an Indian, but I live here, I pay my taxes here, and consider a monument such as Safdarjung’s Tomb does not belong exclusively to India and Indians.  It belongs to us all.

That’s why I nearly cried when I saw the mindless, wilful destruction of such beauty.  Beauty that belongs to all of us.

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