Civil society organisations, heritage groups, teachers and students associations among others today took out a protest march against the government's decision to involve a private enterprise for "maintenance" of the Red Fort.
Around 100 protestors raised slogans of No Company Raj Again as they held the protest march from the Rajghat to the Red Fort on the occasion of the 161st anniversary of the first War of Independence -- the revolt of 1857.
Late last month, the Bharat Dalmia Group signed an MoU with the government under which it was allowed to maintain the monument.
Under the agreement, the Dalmia Bharat Group has agreed to make available certain basic amenities at the monument within six months. These include providing drinking water kiosks, street furniture like benches and signages to guide the visitors, according to the government.
The protestors, however, alleged the move was in line with the RSS' efforts of "rewriting and erasing history according to their whims and fancies".
They said the MoU allows the Bharat Dalmia Group to place their company's name on signages on the fort campus and to establish interpretation centres in the name of providing brief history of the monument.
CPIML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that in its 370-year-old it existence, the Red Fort has just gone from being an iconic symbol of India's resistance and Independence to becoming a world heritage site then why such a symbol is handed over to a private corporate entity.
"The Red Fort is a symbol of our national sovereignty, we can't agree with the idea of giving it to the corporate hands. Our ancestors fought against the 'Company Raj' of the East India Company and the British Colonial Empire and we will also struggle against the divisive politics of hate, bigotry and violence, and allowing corporate companies to re-establish a new Company Raj," Ovais Sultan Khan, social activist and Managing Trustee of Anhad said.
The protest was organised by Anhad in collaboration with left-wing student organisation All India Students' Association (AISA), the Centre for Dalit Literature and Art, Dalit Lekhak Sangh, the Democratic Teachers' Front, the IPTA, the Jan Sanskriti Manch, the Progressive Writers' Association and other groups.
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