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Vandalism at Makka Darzi Imambara Sparks Outrage; Local Administration Considers ASI Involvement

Photo: HT

A shocking incident of vandalism at the historic Makka Darzi Imambara in Khairabad, Uttar Pradesh, located approximately 80 kilometres from the state capital, has ignited anger among heritage enthusiasts. A viral video depicting a man allegedly vandalizing a section of the iconic religious structure has triggered widespread condemnation and calls for action against the individual responsible.

The video captures the man scaling the facade of the Imambara and purportedly damaging the burji (bastion) situated at the pinnacle of the monument.

According to Sub-Divisional Magistrate Gyanendra Kumar Dwivedi, the suspect is believed to suffer from mental instability and resides in close proximity to the Imambara. The video, which has been circulating widely, was recorded on August 26, 2023.

In response to this act of vandalism, a written complaint has been filed by S Mohammed Haider, a corporate lawyer and heritage activist. The complaint has been addressed to the Superintendent of Police in Sitapur, the District Magistrate, and the Divisional Commissioner in Lucknow.

In his complaint, Haider stated, “It is disheartening that on August 26, individuals residing within this historical monument deliberately dismantled the bastion at the entrance, inflicting significant damage upon our religious sentiments. Mutawalli Mohammad Moin, who also manages it as a Sunni Waqf property, brought this entire episode to light through his application dated August 27, 2023. He informed the Inspector-in-Charge of Khairabad about the incident and requested appropriate action, but no action has been taken based on the said application.”

“The gravity of the situation cannot be understated. Given the severity of the matter, I implore you to file a case under the applicable Act and pursue stringent legal action to prevent such incidents from recurring and to hold the culprits accountable for their actions,” Haider added in his complaint.

Adity Chakravarty, another heritage enthusiast, expressed concern over the rapid deterioration of the Imambara complex. “The Imambara complex is deteriorating rapidly. Encroachments persist, and vandals continue to intentionally destroy its sections. Our heritage group, Citizens for Lucknow, attempted to raise funds for basic repairs to the gate in 2021, but we encountered challenges in obtaining the necessary permissions.”

Responding to the public outcry, SDM Sitapur stated, “Upon receiving orders from the Sitapur District Magistrate, we conducted an inspection of the area in collaboration with the local police. We identified the encroachers and reprimanded them. It has come to our attention that the individual featured in the video is mentally unstable. Nonetheless, we have issued a stern warning against engaging in such activities in the future. Furthermore, we are making efforts to contact the caretaker (mutawalli) who, as per our information, resides in Lucknow.”

“In addition, we are currently engaged in advanced discussions with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for the conservation and maintenance of the Imambara,” the SDM added.

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