Published: Saturday 15 October 2005

Humayun's Tomb India

Recently the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, hosted a dinner for his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in an unusual setting: the lawns of the Humayun's tomb. The romantically lit up 16th century architectural marvel presented a spectacular background as Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur received the guests.

Everyone had a good time. But in its haste to be perfect host, the prime minister's office (pmo) had forgotten that the party was illegal: the Humayun's tomb is a historical monument where public functions are allowed only under specific conditions. In any case, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 prohibits such access after sunset. It has taken a special Supreme Court intervention to open the Taj on full moon nights, recently.

Moreover, use of historical sites must respect history. The tomb in question contains the last remains of the Mughal emperor, Humayun. It's also associated with the summary execution of sons of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the British after the revolt of 1857. Will the pmo take notice?

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