No records of ‘chilla’ adjacent to Charminar, says ASI
The Bhagyalakshmi Temple abutting the Charminar ‘came into existence’ after the merger of Hyderabad State with the Union of India, and there are no records of the chilla at the monument, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stated.
The ASI was responding to a Right to Information query filed by YouRTI.in, a portal which helps individuals and activists obtain information by means of the RTI Act. “The Bhagyalakshmi Temple came into existence after taking over of Hyderabad by the Govt. of India adjacent to South Eastern minaret of the Centrally Protected Monument. No records are available in this office about the Chilla adjacent to Charminar (sic),” the ASI response reads. In its response, the ASI stated that the Charminar was declared a Centrally protected monument under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904.
The Bhagyalakshmi Temple lies adjacent to the south eastern minaret of Charminar. File photo
“There have been a lot of questions in connection with the both the temple and the chilla. These include the nature of these structures, and whether the ASI has any records of them. This led our team to file an RTI,” said Mohammed Akram, from YouRTI.in.
A separate but similar RTI query was filed in December 2012. The RTI applicant, S.Q. Masood who is an independent activist, sought to know the ‘status’ of the temple. In its response, the ASI stated, “As per the AMASR Act 1958, Rules 1959, AMSR Act, 2010 (Amendment and Validation) the construction of temple adjacent to the south eastern minar of the Charminar has considered by the Archaeological Survey of India as an unauthorised construction (sic).”
Official records show that in December 1968, ASI Superintending Archaeologist (SA) M. Idrisullah wrote to the Commissioner of erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, seeking its assistance in the removal of ‘unauthorised brick construction on the south-eastern side of the monument, Charminar, which has abutted and to some extent encroached into the monument itself’.
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Similarly in May 1977, the then SA wrote to the Inspector General of Police reiterating that a complaint against an individual was sent to the Commissioner of Police in connection with ‘forcible’ entry into the ‘fenced area of the protected monument namely Charminar’.
The SA urged suitable instructions be given to the Commissioner of Police and that the individual be removed.
“An early action in the matter is requested as the progress of the works at the above protected monument of National importance are held up. Any delay in showing the due progress of the works and proper maintenance would be viewed seriously by the Government and attract criticism from the public,” the letter reads.
No timely action
According to Mr Masood, who obtained the documents, lack of timely intervention by authorities in connection with dealing with unauthorised constructions, irrespective of which faith they belong to, has led to problems. “Had timely action been taken while dealing with religious structures in monuments, including Charminar, the situation would have been different. Political and communal mileage would not have been drawn from them,” he said.