Nestled in a sea of welding and restore retailers on the congested and busy industrial pocket of Sarai Rohilla is a heritage construction that’s presumably the oldest surviving police submit (chowki) within the Capital. Hidden by momentary porta-cabins for senior residents and the juvenile cell of north district police on one aspect, and flanked by high-rise buildings on the opposite, finding the crumbling heritage construction on Previous Rohtak Highway is a problem though proof of the chowki’s existence goes again to the early Nineteenth century.
In response to Delhi Police: Historical past and Heritage — a espresso desk guide on the historical past of Delhi Police — the chowki finds a point out in information courting again to the early Nineteenth century. It says that the construction is talked about in Mirza Sangin Beg’s guide Sair-ul Manazil, which dates again to 1827. Sair-ul Manazil (a journey from one vacation spot to a different)was reportedly commissioned by the British East India Firm, which requested Beg to jot down in regards to the 19-century Delhi.
In response to the espresso desk guide, Sadar Bazar in north Delhi is the oldest police station in Delhi inbuilt 1861. Apart from Sadar Bazar, Sabzi Mandi, Mehrauli, Kotwali and Mundka are among the many oldest police stations in Delhi, the guide revealed by the Delhi Police says.
Since Beg’s work dates to 1827, the guide acknowledges that police submit predates all of them.
Historian Swapna Liddle, who has edited an English translation of Sair-Ul-Manazil, mentioned the guide seems to say the submit by the title of “Barki Chowki”.
“Sair-Ul-Manazil mentions the presence of a police chowki referred to as Barki Chowki in an space the place there’s a kala pahad (hill) and a temple of Sheetla the place Hindus carry out puja .Close to this chowki, there’s a sarai of Rohilla Khan,” Liddle mentioned, citing the guide. Although extra particulars in regards to the construction aren’t identified, Liddle mentioned Sair-Ul-Manazil was written within the 1820s, which signifies that the construction (chowki) may very well be an early Nineteenth-century British-era constructing.
A senior police officer, who requested to not be named. mentioned that division is now planning to strategy heritage specialists to preserve the police submit.
“It’s a matter of satisfaction for us (Delhi Police) that we try to revive and oldest police chowki, and try to revive our legacy. After revamping the construction, it will likely be showcased to the general public because the heritage of the Delhi Police. Our intention is to show the place right into a vacationer spot as nicely,” mentioned the officer.
A second officer mentioned that the division has despatched a Rs17 lakh proposal to the Union tradition ministry for the conservation of the construction. The division additionally plans to achieve out to Indian Nationwide Belief for Artwork and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the preservation of the construction, he added.
Tradition ministry officers couldn’t be reached for a remark.
KT Ravindran, convener INTACH Delhi, mentioned whereas the Delhi police have been but to strategy the physique, they might be glad to collaborate on the conservation of the construction. “We’d fortunately take up the proposal if and each time approached by the authorities,” mentioned Ravindran.
Derelict, crumbling construction
In the present day, most individuals within the neighbourhood are oblivious to the importance, and even the presence, of the historic police submit of their neighborhood. Queries to passersby draw a clean. With a brand new police submit blocking the view of the unique construction, Barki Chowki is commonly missed as individuals make their method by means of the locality that has undergone an enormous transformation up to now few many years.
The deserted construction has a number of arched openings resulting in its inside part, which contains a number of rooms. Whereas the ceiling has collapsed in most elements, the boundary partitions that envelopes the construction is undamaged though deep cracks run throughout it. The construction has been weakened by the deeply seated roots of the a number of banyan timber that line the premises.
It additionally has a nicely that was lined with concrete someday within the final decade.
Raman Sharma, 37, whose home is adjoining to the police submit, remembers that kids of the neighbourhood used to play contained in the advanced at one level.
“Together with my buddies, I used to play contained in the police submit. It was deserted even then however we might simply entry it. A police merchandise store used to function out of right here and we might usually work together with the cops who by no means objected to our presence. We performed cricket right here and had developed a friendship with the officers right here,” mentioned Sharma.
“We additionally grew up listening to tales that folks had jumped into the nicely and died. As a consequence of such tales, some individuals feared that the compound was haunted,” he added.
Liddle that efforts geared toward each conservation and adaptive reuse of the construction may very well be undertaken. “Apart from conservation and structural help, the construction may very well be outfitted with amenities for adaptive reuse. If this construction was a police submit sooner or later, it may very well be utilized in an identical context,” mentioned Liddle.