150-year-old building demolished

The tehsil building was built in 1856, a few days after the annexation of Punjab by the British. The thick-walled building was situated on the eastern side of the central bus stand here.

Mr Balvinder Singh, Head, Guru Ram Das School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Mr Brij Bedi, husband of supercop Kiran Bedi, condemned the action of the administration in demolishing the building. A government official told the agitated heritage lovers that a magnificent Dr Ambedkar bhavan was being built in place of the tehsil building.

The building had a spacious courtyard, surrounded by small rooms on all sides. No one had valued its historic value. The building was in poor shape due to the apathy of all concerned.

According to Mr Anand Gauba, in 1849, Amritsar was basically a walled city. A massive double wall of unbaked bricks with a double moat, had been constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1825. He had also got constructed 12 gates. However, it was a matter of great concern that only one gate Ram Bagh had been left intact. The rest of the gates had been razed to the ground. While the state government had been celebrating the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh it had failed to protect the heritage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Mr Balvinder Singh, Mr Bedi, representatives of the Amritsar Vikas Manch and other organisations have said like Rajasthan, the Punjab Government should have made “wise use” of our heritage. They said in Jaipur and other parts of the desert state and Pakistan t of the havelis were converted into hotels which had become a great attraction for foreigners.

Art lovers allege the administration should constitute a committee of NGOs for the identification of all historical buildings in the state which would be a great tribute to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Balvinder Singh said though the building was built during the British period a few years after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh yet the building material and architectural design were certainly the same as used in the Sikh period. He said he was personally pained to see the heritage building crumbling down in front of him. Mr Balvinder Singh, who is also convener of the Punjab Conservation Society, said his society was ready for the documentation of all historical buildings in the state.

Disturbed over the demolition of the tehsil building, Mr Brij Bedi said, “We did not require Mughals to destroy our heritage. Their work is being done by our own government which had pledged to govern on the pattern of the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. While the Maharaja was known for raising buildings the Badal government was out to demolish our rich heritage.”

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