Delhi Civic Authorities Demolish Century-Old Sufi Dargah at Mandi House

One of the dargah's caretakers, Akbar Ali, told The Wire that no notices were received before authorities removed the structure.

New Delhi: Civic authorities in New Delhi have demolished a two century-old dargah, known popularly as the Nanhe Mian Chishti Dargah at Mandi House in the city.

It is not clear why the demolition was ordered and the deputy mayor could not be contacted by The Wire.

The place had been a common visiting site for many, irrespective of their faith.

Photographer Mayank Austen Soofi’s 2019 column in Hindustan Times says that it is a Sufi shrine and the grave of Sufi saint of the same name by which the dargah is known – Syyed Nanhe Mian Chishti or “Little Gentleman”. The column notes that its beauty is “disarming” and a source of peace in urban chaos.

One of the dargah’s caretakers, Akbar Ali, told The Wire‘s Atul Howale that no notices were received before authorities removed the structure.

“Earlier on August 2, 2022 they had come and removed the tiles, and the boundary wall, and so on. Next on April 26 this year, they suddenly arrived at 3 am in the morning and removed everything,” said Ali.

Ali added that in the absence of concrete information on why such a step was taken, it appears as if authorities are against mazars and dargahs. “Maybe it is because we are Muslims and they think we are their enemies,” he said.

Ali told The Wire that he is a human first and a Muslim later. “We are Indians living in India. It’s not as if we have come from outside,” he said.

Anwar Ali, another caretaker who has looked after the site for the last 45 years, said the dargah is at least 250 years old.

Both the Alis showed The Wire papers that showed proof of land tax having been paid since the 1970s.

“There is no sign of the dargah now,” Anwar said.

Indian Express has, meanwhile, reported on how a 15th century monument in Delhi was demolished to make way for a mansion for the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board.