HYDERABAD: A group of 20 odd people were taken into custody by the Golconda police when they protested against what was called the ‘destruction of heritage monument’ at Golconda’s Naya Quila area which is allocated by the government for Golf course project.
Social activist Dr Jasveen Jairath of Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), who had called for the protest at the very site at Naya Quila, along with other activists were arrested in a few minutes from start of the programme.
According to Dr Jairath, following the orders by the High Court of AP, a report was submitted by Wakf Board which was later dismissed and a new survey was to take place on Monday, which lead to the protest by the civil society organisations. According to Golconda Inspector Mohammed Waheeduddin, the activists were giving highly provocative speeches and as a matter of prevention, they were taken into custody.
The land at Golconda fort which was allocated for the golf association on lease for setting up a golf course has been in controversy for the presence of a 450 year old Shia Masjid named Mustafa Khan Masjid and a few graves at the site. According to Dr Jairath, there has been heavy lobbying by Hyderabad Golf Association (HGA) with ASI, Wakf board, Hyderabad city Collector and APTDC to support the project. Dr Jairath also alleges that HGA has been proceeding to establish a transformer at the prohibited area of Naya Quila, which is a violation of AM & ASR (amendment and violation) Act 2010 that governs preservation of ancient monuments.
She further raises questions about the 100 odd lorries of mud which were deposited for levelling of the land which has lead to more than five feet raising of ground level — which she says was a violation of interim judgment of AP High Court that only allows grassing without changing the contours.
Adding to her list of allegations, she says two huge statues of Lord Hanuman have been dumped unceremoniously towards the inner wall of the fort in an attempt to clear the way for HGA’s golf course. Calling for the need for an open debate regarding the dispute, SOUL demands stopping of any water extraction from the site and fix full tank level (FTL) at Naya Quila talab.
“Our children used to play gilli-danda and cricket here, now we will have to pay and play golf,” said one of the protesters who was taken away by the police later. Talking to Express, Captain BLK Reddy, who is the honorary secretary of the Hyderabad Golf Association, explained that it was on the insistence of ASI, New Delhi in 2001 that Government of India decided to set up a golf course at Naya Quila to protect the site from encroachments. Further, 212 acres were handed over by the AP government to APTDC in 2001 which in turn was leased and licensed to HGA for 50 years to promote the game of golf and set up a court with international standards.
According to Reddy, the work at the 52 acre site at Naya Quila, where work is progressing, is continuously being assessed and approved by a three-man committee which includes the District collector, APTDC VC and MD, and superintending archeologist ASI. He also wonders the claims made by the locals regarding the mosque.
He says, “The mosque over here is over 450 years old and which was not in use for at least last 100 years. More over the Sunni sect in Golconda has nothing to do with the Shia mosque here.” He further said, “We are trying to do something which Hyderabad can be proud of. We are spending our time and money for promoting the sport and also protect the land from further encroachments.”
Taking the example of heritage monument ‘Barahkhamba’ at Delhi golf course, Reddy says, the site is preserved today only because of the golf course which was set up. Pointing out that these lands which were allotted to HGA were either dump yards or sewage water bodies, HGA according to him, has set up a golf course of international standards at Jamlikunta, near Naya Quila.