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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Seeing red, Defence Ministry gives Red Fort to ASI

New Delhi: At the ceremonial function conducted on 22 December, the Defence Ministry finally handed over the Red Fort to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Union Defence Minister George Fernandes and Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Jagmohan exchanged controls at a brief ceremony at the Red Fort complex here.

The famed 17th century Lal Quila [The fort is made of red sandstone] built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan was under the control of the Indian army for 56 years. However, a terrorist attack in December 2000 in which some army jawans were killed, exposed its vulnerability and raised doubts over the security scenario. The fort is visited all round the year by domestic and foreign tourists.

The erstwhile British colonial rulers used the fort to try the freedom fighters after convicting them of treason. The freedom fighters were mostly hanged inside the fort complex. The Indian army also used the fort to house its interrogation centres and other facilities for the intelligence agencies.

The security of the Red Fort would now be looked after by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), informed Jagmohan, Union Tourism Minister. He also said, "We will now move to nominate Red Fort to UNESCO’s World Heritage List." 

MG News Desk

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