New Delh: Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib's 'haveli',
which was recently renovated by the government, seems to have
failed to please both the visitors and locals, who say the
restoration of the heritage building is a half-hearted attempt.
The doors of the haveli at Gali Qasim Jaan near Ballimaran, one of
the alleys in the Chandni Chowk area, were thrown open Tuesday by
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who also inaugurated an exhibition
of memorabilia connected to the celebrated poet.
"The haveli has an area of 400 sq. metres and only some part of it
has been acquired by the government. It has only 130 sq. metres
under its acquisition," Mohammad Tahir, a local resident, told
"Displaying replicas and works of Ghalib to show that the
government cares is a mere eyewash," he added.
Agreed another local, Sameer Bhat, who alleged that the
beautification was done only to please the chief minister and that
the government was not serious about preserving an important part
of the capital's heritage.
"The five-day renovation work was undertaken because the chief
minister was coming. Otherwise, the haveli was left in shambles
for years," said Bhat.
According to several locals, over the years Ghalib's haveli has
been neglected to the extent that it was rented out for marriage
ceremonies. In 2005, it even housed a heater factory.
It was then that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR),
along with the Delhi government, filmmaker and poet Gulzar and
Kathak danseuse Uma Sharma, made efforts to preserve the 18th
century structure and started the Ghalib Memorial Movement.
Visitors also accused the government of fooling them by exhibiting
Ghalib's fake memorabilia.
"Ghalib is an inspiration for thousands of young writers and
poets. The fact that replicas have been put up on display shows
the government's seriousness in preserving his rich literary
heritage," said 42-year-old Delhi resident Debi Dasgupta.
Rebuffing the accusations, ICCR director Suresh K. Goel said there
was no question of cheating people.
"Tags are there on replicas for informing visitors that they are
not real, so how come are we cheating people?" he said.