HYDERABAD:Near Mir Jumla Tank —which has been encroached to form the present day Talab Katta — and in Sultan Shahi lay the graves of several historic personalities. The list includes the architect of Hyderabad Mir Momin Astarabadi, late Prime Ministers of Hyderabad Sir Salar Jung I and II and Hindustani classical musical exponent Bade Ghulam Ali among many others.
Considering their names, one would think their final resting place would be a token to their illustrious lives. But sadly, it’s nothing close to that. Spread over 18 acres, the Daira-e-Mir Momin has another special significance. It’s said that Momin brought soil from Karbala, a holy city in the present day Iraq where millions of Shias go for pilgrimage, and laid it down on the graveyard.
Today, however, a large portion of that land has been encroached upon by local residents. The problem is so dire that the distance between one of the shanties and the tombstone is barely five feet. With encroachments come corresponding problems. An unidentified, dilapidated tomb in the outer reaches of the cemetery has been turned into a dumpyard, filled with rotting food, plastics and dead rats.
Apart from this, there is a persistent problem of littering in the central area of the graveyard which houses the mausoleum of famous Nimat Khan-e-Ali, a satirist, poet and kitchen superintendent of emperor Aurangzeb. Nur-ul Huda, a religious figure from Najaf is also laid to rest here.
Superintendent of Daira-e-Mir Momin Mazhar Ali Khan said a legal battle over the encroachment has been going on for the past 15-20 years. “A legal resolution seems like a distant dream now. The real problem is that the encroachers have the support of politicians.”
“We have been complaining to the Wakf Board but to no avail. Locals come here at night, drink and create ruckus. When our guards confront them, they are threatened with knives,” Khan said. Only two guards man the entire expanse of the cemetery and they do so unwillingly. “They get only `3,000-`4,000 per month. Who would want to work diligently with that sum?” Khan asked.