Saturday, November 21, 2009

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

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Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Delhi’s historic solar observatory attacked.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It is quiet on Ground Zero. “I have worked in Jantar Mantar for 40 years and have seen many demonstrations but never such vandals,” says Harilal, a sweeper, 24 hours after the pillaging of this 18th century solar observatory in Central Delhi.

On November 19, 2009, the first day of the World Heritage Week, thousands of farmers from the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh came visiting Jantar Mantar. Protesting against the sugarcane pricing of the Indian government, their plan was to gather outside the monument — the designated place for demonstrations.

However, hundreds, possibly thousands, of farmers gatecrashed into the Jantar Mantar complex. What followed could put Nadir Shah, Delhi’s great plunderer, to shame. Women tourists were molested, floodlights smashed. Some demonstrators urinated against the monument’s red walls, some broke the southern gate, some lit fire to dry grass. (A fire brigade had to be called.) Many also had booze.

All this took place against the backdrop of a high-rise that serves as the headquarters of the organising committee of 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. This sporting event is being considered a high point for Delhi, a metropolis aspiring to become a World Class City such as Singapore or Shanghai.

“They were goondas. They could not have been farmers,” says a Jantar Mantar official. Talking on condition of anonymity, he is supervising the cleanup. His staff is diligently on the job. Three sacks full of empty booze bottles have been recovered. “Yesterday was the first day of the World Heritage Week and look what happened,” he says waving his arm at the complex. “What will foreigners think of us?”

Perhaps they will not notice. The garden is being swept, the lovers are etching their names on palm trees and foreign tourists are sleeping on the grass. Normalcy is returning. This city has seen worse.

The day after

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

The hangover

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

The next day survey

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Why did they do this?

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Blame the sugarcane

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Delhi 2010

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Not done

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

But it's still beautiful the day after 19/11

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

Remember this

Capital Plunder – Jantar Mantar, 19/11

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

We hope that they (ASI) paint it a different color, the next time they paint it.

Roma said...

loved the dilli 6 article in ht city today. Kudos
P.S. A memory refresher: I'm the one interning with fever 104. we met at the Aviva activity @ ansal plaza last week.

Ramit said...

Roma, thanks for pointing out that article. I had missed it.

Nicely written Mayank. Cute love story. Hope they get what they wish for.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written Mr. Soofi. These farmers need to be taught a lesson in manners. They should know that such activities hinder rather than help their cause. As it is their image is one of coarse ruffians who sould not be given too much leeway. Molesting women and vandalizing monuments is certainly not the way to go about a peaceful protest!

Debby said...

The Hindu carried a photo of a flyover there crammed with farmers. Is the sugarcane tangle so bad? I have never seen so many people out on the streets in Delhi.

Peter said...

What a shameful thing to do! It is such a wonderful site!

Arunabh said...

I was appalled at the destruction of central Delhi. What stopped the police to use water canons against them ?(Delhi Police used it effectively against students of DU in the past)

Anyways may I propose that the government enacts a law where only demands of peaceful protests will be heard.

If the government can tell the Kashmiri terrorists and the Maoists to abjure violence before coming to talks what stops it to apply uniformly all across India ?

We will be doing great injustice to Gandhiji and his teachings of non violence if the govt keeps talking to hooligans and ignores peaceful protests.