Owing to the Pakistan government’s continuous negligence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s ancestral “haveli” in Gujranwala city of Pakistan, the roof of the haveli collapsed on Friday.
A portion of the haveli of “Sher-e-Punjab” Maharaja Ranjit Singh, collapsed in spite of the authorities, a few days ago declaring it safe to be converted into a historical tourism site.
The Assistant Commissioner of the district visited the said haveli along with the officials of the concerned department and declared it completely safe. It was announced to be open for tourists, especially for Sikhs from India.
Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first maharaja of the Sikh Empire, was born in this house on 13 November 1780. The haveli holds great significance for Sikhs around the world.
The mansion is shaped as a long rectangle, oriented north-south but canted to the northeast in the prevailing direction of Gujranwala’s urban fabric.
In the late 18th century it was likely surrounded by more greenery and open space, but today it stands in an extremely crowded environment surrounded by illegally built makeshift dwellings.
In a video shared by the locals, the heritage property, which once reflected the wealth and eminence of Ranjit Singh’s father, Mahan Singh looks in shambles.
A local said, “There is an illegal fish market in front of the haveli. Funds have been allocated several times to repair this heritage property, but the collapse of the roof shows total negligence”.
“The remaining part of the haveli also remains in dilapidated condition. A park was constructed outside the haveli, which has turned into a fish market”.
The building has been declared a protected heritage building by the Pakistan Archaeology Department, but the officials rarely visit. The Pakistan government has over the time allocated funds for the restoration of the haveli, but it was not utilized.
There were reports claiming that the government converted an area of the haveli into a dump yard and the lower floor which was being used as a police station for long after the partition.
Later, the Pakistani government removed the garbage dump but started using the place as a parking area.
“In 2012 or 2013 the ground floor portion of the haveli beneath the front porch was converted into shops for vegetable vendors. This also resulted in the destruction of the main stairway which was converted into a parking lot for two-wheeled vehicles. It is feared that further such encroachments may result in the destruction of the main building, which so far survives, though in a perilous state of neglect,” a report said.