Located near The Oberoi, the so-called Teekona Kabristan has been in ferment for the past three months. Delhi Development Authority has started demolition proceedings at the complex after Delhi high court established the agency’s right to the public land. Abdul Khalid Miyan, gaddinashin, or chief caretaker, of Dargah Firdosi, is naturally dismayed. Before hurriedly leaving for court proceedings on Wednesday , Miyan claimed, “This shrine has stood here for 800 years.Our pir even read the funeral prayer for Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.“A quick walk through the 12.8-acre complex of two mosques, three dargahs, residential houses, shops and a graveyard shows signs of demolition activity . The inhabitants claimed that over 80 families lived at the complex, apparently all of them descendants of the founding pir’s caretakers.The Waqf Board also claims the land as its own. DDA officials, however, insisted to TOI that this ground comprised the Amir Khusro Park that once had jogging tracks and other facilities. “The land is listed in the records of our L&DO department, not the Waqf Board. It was only after 2008-09 that some people blocked access to the park and began building the madrassa, houses and other structures,“ said a DDA official.DDA conceded that a dargah was located there, but said that other mosques and shops came up in recent times. “As per the court orders, we have left the mosque and dargahs untouched, but the other structures had to go,“ said the official.
Police teams are deployed at the site to prevent unsavoury incidents. The situation almost slipped out of control on July 10, when the demolition was originally slated to resume. “Hundreds of people gathered to defend the shrine, but the demolition team didn’t come. They only arrived the next day without notice,“ said Md Allauddin of Dargah Musafir Shah, who demanded chemical tests of building material to prove the age of the structures.
People in the neighbouring areas partially support the claims of the residents.Mahesh Kumar, a cobbler who swears to working near the complex from 1974, said, “Some structures were built almost 40 years ago, but a few shops and the masjid that came up on the site of an older structure are recent additions.“
The atmosphere will likely remain tense for some time. The verdict on Masjid Illahi, which appears to be a new structure, is due on July 24. With passions running high, the authorities are struggling to tread the narrow path between legitimacy and matters of faith.