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Images: above - the haveli as it was until recently. Below - the haveli as it is today.


Ranjit Singh's Historic Haveli is Now a Vegetable Market





The haveli of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, founder of the 19th century Sikh empire, has become a picture of neglect due to the indifferent attitude of the Pakistani Waqf Board, an Amritsar-based historian has claimed.

Located in the old Sabzi Mandi area of Gujranwala city in Pakistan's Punjab province, the heritage structure was recently converted into a vegetable market.

Historian Surinder Singh Kochhar claimed the Waqf Board, which took over the charge of the haveli, constructed six vegetable shops by destroying the ground floor.

He said that the haveli now also lacks an access route as the stairs leading to the first floor have been dismantled and the area converted into a parking lot.

Surinder Singh is regularly in touch with his friends settled in the Pakistani city.

"The Waqf Board constructed six shops and sold them to vegetable commission agents. The shops were constructed during the first week of October. The traders have started selling vegetables. I was told about this on Saturday by my friend who also sent the pictures," said Surinder Singh, who declined to give his friend's name for security reasons.

Last year in January, the local land mafia had tried to dismantle the historical structure to construct a shopping plaza at the site, he said.

When he raised the matter in the Indian media, Surinder Singh said, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote to the Pakistani authorities to protect the haveli.

"The bid to raze the building was halted after the issue was raised in media, but the mafia was successful in dismantling the front portion of haveli," he said, adding that Pakistan Waqf Board's then Secretary Faraz Abbas had confirmed that the mafia had felled a portion of the structure.

During his personal visit in 2011, Surinder Singh said, he had found the local municipal authorities were dumping garbage inside the haveli.

"Close to this haveli is the haveli of Hari Singh Nalwa (another famed Sikh warrior) and the grave of Maha Singh (father of Ranjit Singh), which are also in a pathetic condition," the historian said.

The haveli started losing its sheen during the Partition days when it was used as a shelter to house Muslims arriving from India.

Later, the structure was converted into a police post and it was not until 2006 that the post was shifted. It was then handed over to the Department of Archaeology and Museums.

[Courtesy: Daily Mail. Edited for]
November 11, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), November 11, 2013, 11:10 AM.

Meanwhile, in Indian Punjab some mosques have been returned to the Waqf Board in India and mosques from the pre-partition days continue to exist in villages and cities. Pakistan is probably the one country in the world which is in a worst state than India.

2: Bhupinder Singh Mahal (Dundas, Ontario, Canada), November 11, 2013, 12:02 PM.

The mention of the "grave of Maha Singh (father of Ranjit Singh)" is troubling, given Sikhs cremate their dead.

3: Manpreet Singh (Canton, Ohio, USA), November 12, 2013, 12:29 AM.

On the Indian subcontinent, we are in a real bad shape ... first 1947, then we faced the 1984 slaughter from the hands of Indian government. in Pakistan we are nothing but 'kafir' (as per Muslim ideology). Our heritage, including the historical gurdwaras in their hands, are in a sad state. In Afghanistan we can't even think of walking on the streets ... and all this is happening to us because we don't have our own country, our own government. We keep on going and knocking on the doors of those who never helped us and will never ever help us. We have to do something on our own, for ourselves. Imagine SALDEF and other organizations not existing in the US. It would have become impossible for Sikhs to wear a turban. Thank God we didn't rely on the Indian government for help. How much help have we received from the Indian government in France on the turban issue?

4: Harinder Singh 1469 (New Delhi, India), November 12, 2013, 12:22 PM.

Wish we could do something. My worry is that many more of such heritage sites may also turn into markets or shopping malls, etc. Our heritage is being lost due to missing leadership.

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