New Delhi: Authorities conducted an “encroachment removal” action at the site of an old ‘dargah’ located beside a prominent street near the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin in south Delhi on Saturday amid heavy security deployment, police said.
The dargah of Syed Abdullah urf Bhure Shah, located on a plot near the Sabz Burj — a 16th-century double-domed Mughal-era monument, is “centuries-old” and the saint is revered by people from both Muslim and Hindu communities, said Yusuf Beg, caretaker of the dargah.
A posse of police and paramilitary personnel were deployed when the action was carried out by the authorities at the site facing the busy Zakir Husain Marg.
Beg said that they themselves removed the canopy and steel barriers placed next to the graves to prevent any damage.
“A drive to remove encroachment on the pavement was carried out by the PWD. Adequate security personnel deployment was made,” a senior police officer said.
As the dargah is located in the sensitive Nizamuddin area, paramilitary personnel were also on standby and one of them carried a tear gas shell box as well.
“We have been told to ensure law and order is maintained,” a paramilitary personnel on duty said.
The officials of the Delhi PWD could not be immediately reached for comments.
Beg and his son wept in a corner as a bulldozer removed the extracted canopy and later dug out the flooring made around the graves, which stand very close to the street.
“There are seven graves near the roadside, including that of Baba Bhure Shah and his kin. Now, the graves have all become exposed to the elements, they have ‘chadar’ over them, and in gusty wind or rain, the graves may get affected. There are a few graves on the inner side near a tree. Both Hinds and Muslims visit this dargah, and it is located near the famous Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah,” he told PTI.
The canopy carried ‘ayats’ (verses) from the holy Quran, the dargah caretaker said.
Asked what led to the action, Beg claimed that in February they were called by the district administration authorities and told about the plan to make the pavement free of any encroachment.
“These graves are a few centuries old, and we cannot move them. We do not have documentary evidence to prove its age, so action has been taken. We had already removed some of the steel grills and other structures recently, which were near the street. And, today also, we removed the canopy and steel barriers placed next to the graves ourselves. If it had been done by a bulldozer machine, it could have damaged the graves,” Beg said.
Asked about the structures that were removed by authorities during the action, he said, “A couple of rooms were demolished, and the flooring next to graves was dug up for the pavement.”
A pile of household items, an old clock, some important documents, grain bags, donation boxes, and grillwork objects lay deposited behind two small roofless rooms left as of now. Images of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina are painted on one of its walls.
Two men were seen offering the afternoon ‘namaz’ in one of the rooms as an old tree peeped from above. An ornate lamp removed from the now demolished room lay next to them.
Picking up and patting his pet cat that strolled nervously amid the pile of items, Beg said, “We call him ‘Sheru’, and he grew up amid us. He used to roam around beneath the canopy and often sat next to Baba’s grave.”
Several onlookers, including locals stood nearby, some on the road divider on the Zakir Husain Marg, as the bulldozers swung into action. The traffic was very momentarily halted on one side, near the street facing the Sabz Burj, during the course of the action.
Delhi High Court, in an order on March 14, 2022, observed that the government concerned was “duty bound” to remove all unauthorised constructions that might exist on public land.