‘De-communalise’ heritage monuments, conservationists demand

Agra, (IANS): Historical buildings in India should be “de-communalised” since there has been a growing tendency to give communal colour to heritage properties, said a group of conservationists here on Tuesday.

Speaking at a seminar to mark World Heritage Day, they stressed that giving communal hue to heritage properties was contrary to the secular character of India’s polity.

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A social activist Shishpal Singh Gautam bemoaned that the people of Agra had no love or pride for their rich heritage.

Another speaker, Jagan Prasad Teheria, said government efforts alone would not help protect heritage structure. “Every Indian should come forward and contribute his bit to conserve with pride the glorious past of our country as reflected in the monuments.”

Hutendra Pal Singh of the Central Hindi Institute said the mindset of people had to be changed to secure ancient structures.

Rajnish Verma, a young conservationist, said: “Not just stones, our customs, traditions, cuisine, linguistic treasure and the ‘sanskars’ handed down by family elders are all part of the glorious heritage of this country.”

A heritage photographer, Vikas Sharma, said heritage instils pride and “connects us with our rich past”.

“We are lucky to be so rich in heritage — from food to buildings to music… Every effort should be made to integrate the diverse cultures and streams of history with school curricula, so that youngsters imbibe a sense of history,” Sharma said.

Prashant Pachauri, another speaker at the seminar, said Agra was full of heritage buildings, but only a few got the attention while most lesser-known ones were neglected.

P.K. Sharma drew everyone’s attention towards the encroachments all over the city that had dwarfed historical buildings.

The seminar, organised by the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, demanded recognition of the Yamuna river as a heritage asset.