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How a letter from an organisation promoting Urdu culture led Delhi Police to its oldest surviving chowki

Located in Northwest Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla, Barh Ki Chowki was lying forgotten and in a state of utter neglect until a few years back. Even Delhi Police, which has an anti-theft police post not far from the building, had failed to notice the property which, in fact, belonged to them. But the fortune of the crumbling structure began to change in 2005 when a letter from an official of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu (Hind) led Delhi Police to the chowki, which, as it turned out, is its oldest existing police post.

The chowki has now been restored after a two-year intensive restoration project carried out in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

In its letter, the Anjuman, an organisation that works to promote Urdu language, culture, and literature, shared with the Delhi Police some interesting nuggets from the book Delhi In Translation —1821 and Beyond by Shama Mitra Chenoy. A translation of Sairul Manazil, written by Mirza Sangeen Baig in 1827, the book mentions names of at least 12-14 police stations set up during the colonial rule. These include Delhi Gate Jail Khana, Chandni Chowk police chowki, Kotwali of Chandni Chowk, Turkman Gate police chowki, Kashmere Darwaza, Faiz Bazaar ki police chowki, Lahori Darwaza police chowki, Shah Ganj police station, Qasim Khan ki police chowki, Daribe ki police chowki, and Barh ki chowki.

Delhi Police, Urdu, urdu language, Urdu literature, Urdu poetry, delhi news, India news, Indian express, Indian express India news, Indian express India Barh Ki Chowki in Northwest Delhi was restored after a 2-yr intensive project. Tashi Tobgyal

However, of all these police posts, only one could be located — the Barh ki chowki.

“The book mentions these chowkis along with landmarks and other important details. It was still not an easy task to locate the chowkis, though. The building (Barh Ki Chowki) was in a very bad condition with its roof collapsed and the walls giving way,” ACP Rajendra Kalkal, who has featured the chowki in a coffee table book recently, told The Indian Express.

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About other buildings, sources said over time, they either went to ruins or were replaced by newer police/government buildings. These include Paharganj and Kotwali police stations. According to an excerpt from the book: “There is a chauki known as the Barh Ki Chowki and close to this is a hillock called Kala Pahar. On this is a Seetla temple, a place of worship of the Hindus.”

The now-revamped Chowki is a stone building with two entrances and two rooms. The arches, which were completely destroyed, have been restored while a small well outside has been cleaned by the officers. On the history of the chowki, police sources said while one of the rooms was used for administrative work, the other was used as a detention centre or lock-up.

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“The restoration started in 2021-22 by INTACH. The first and second phases are almost complete. Senior officers will now decide if they want to use the building as a police post or a senior citizen cell or for other purposes,” added Kalkal.

Get more updates on Delhi News Today. Also get Latest News Updates on G20 India Summit at The Indian Express.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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