Jammu: A 150-year-old Mahal built by the
Dogra kings in Jammu and Kashmir has suffered "heavy damage"
due to encroachment, even as controversy brews over the state
government`s move to lease out another heritage monument to a
private firm for setting up a five-star hotel.
Locals here had raised protest over the government`s move
to give `Mubarak Mandi`, the seat of power of the erstwhile
Dogra King, to private dealers to set up the hotel.
Another Dogra monument, `Gole Mahal`, 7 km away from
`Mubarak Mandi`, has suffered damage after labourers, hired by
a neighbouring property dealer, allegedly attempted to raze
the monument to build a residential complex.
Set in a mango orchard in Hazuribagh area in Jammu city
here, the `Gole Mahal` was allegedly vandalised by the
labourers after five of its pillars were damaged in broad
daylight, despite district authorities` call to stop all
activity at the heritage site.
"The file for declaring the monument a protected site has
come to me. I am studying it. No body can touch the monument",
District Magistrate Sanjeev Verma told PTI.
When asked about the alleged plunder by labourers, Verma
said he would look into the matter.
Jammu and Kashmir government had set up a probe panel,
headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Rehana Batool,
in October last year to probe the alleged encroachment in the
historic Dogra monument.
"I submitted the report to the District Magistrate long
back. I have recommended that action should be taken to
declare the monument as state protected at the earliest," said
Locals, however, allege that the District Magistrate was
deliberately delaying the process so that the monument would
be razed before the government issues an order to declare it a
An ASI official, however, denied the allegation saying
all activity at the site had been stopped and the monument was
in "good condition."
"The (dismantling) work was stopped in October after our
visit. They had caused minor damage to the roof. We have asked
them not to touch the building. We had taken pictures of
monument, which is in good condition with all pillars, arches
and domes intact," said Mohmmad Ashraf, Deputy Director of the
State Archaeology Department.
"We have submitted the report to ADDC for declaring
the monument as a protected heritage monument under the state
government. The official process for that has begun and is
underway," he said.
Former Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Gulam
Mohmmad, who ruled the state as Prime Minister from 1953 to
1964, and other leaders were kept in detention in Gole Mahal
during the Emergency.