Red Fort in New Delhi

Caravan News

NEW DELHI: India’s Opposition parties on Saturday strongly denounced the Narendra Modi government for ‘leasing out’ the Red Fort, the country’s iconic heritage, to a corporate house for its maintenance.

“After handing over the Red Fort to the Dalmia group, which is the next distinguished location that the BJP government will lease out to a private entity?”, asked the main Opposition Congress party and put three options, including Parliament and Supreme Court below the tweet.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture has reportedly signed an agreement with the Dalimia Bharat group under its ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project. The company has reportedly bought the contract just for Rs 25 crore for five years.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the development as “Sad and dark day” in the history of the country.

“Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila? Red Fort is a symbol of our nation. It is where India’s flag is hoisted on Independence Day. Why should it be leased out? Sad and dark day in our history,” she tweeted.

CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury demanded the Modi government to revise its decision.

“Stop Privatising India’s Heritage: The Parliamentary Committee that went into the issue of handing over heritage sites to private corporate had decided against this unanimously. Govt should reverse its decision of privatising the Red Fort”, he said.

The Polit Bureau of CPI-M has opposed the move of the government, saying the Parliamentary Committee had unanimously decided against the handing over of heritage sites to private corporate. The party termed the move as “blasphemous” for the freedom movement.

“It must be remembered that the Red Fort is not just one of many heritage sites in our country. It is the place where the National Flag was hoisted in commemoration of the place that the Fort occupies in the history of our freedom struggle. The first Proclamation of Indian Independence from British rule was read out from its ramparts by Bahadur Shah Zafar in l857. Subsequently his trial was held in the Fort.  Some decades later, the historic INA trial which played such a significant role in the battle for Indian freedom was held in the Red Fort.  It is this fact that the Red Fort is a symbol of Independent India that has ensured that on Independence Day, 15th August, the Prime Minister addresses the nation with the Fort as his backdrop. Handing over this iconic monument to a corporate entity is nothing short of blasphemous,” CPI-M said in a statement.

Eminent historian and writer William Dalrymple said: “There must be better ways of maintaining a nation’s greatest monuments than by auctioning them off to a corporate house.”

Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde commented: “Considering that Vishnu Hari Dalmia is such a revered name of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad & the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, adopting the Lal Qila for management by his group, is such an act of grace in #NewIndia.”

The Red Fort was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 17th century (1639-1648). During his regime, he had built some other iconic buildings, including Jama Masjid in Delhi and Taj Mahal in Agra.


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