Court stops bulldozing of Dogra monument

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued notices to the state government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) directing them to ensure that status quo was maintained on the Gole Mahal Dogra heritage monument in Jammu.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi on Monday passed its order on a public interest litigation filed by a social activist, Balbir Singh, seeking protection of Gole Mahal (Hazari Bagh Talab Tillo) after it was partially bulldozed by property dealers last week.

In its order, the court has asked the respondents to take effective steps to see to it that no changes were made to the nature of the building or to the site where it stands by any property dealer, contractor or builder.

The 150-year-old Gole Mahal, built by Dogra kings, reportedly suffered “heavy damage” when a property dealer dismantled a portion of the structure on December 15.

Its main big-arched gate and its eastern and western gates along with a three-floored staircase and brick tower were allegedly damaged by bulldozers and cranes with the state government said to be sitting on a proposal to have the structure declared a protected monument. “It is sad that (an attempt was made) to raze this Dogra monument to the ground. We told property dealers about the need to protect the monument which belongs to the family of Maharaja Pratap Singh and Maharaj Hari Singh,” said Kartar Singh, whose family has completed several generations of service at Gole Mahal.

Set in a mango orchard in Hazuri Bagh area, Gole Mahal is famous for its round-shaped lotus look.

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