ISLAMABAD: The issue of encroachment at the Rawat Fort is still hindering its restoration and conservation work being carried out by the team of Department of Archaeology and Museums (DoAM) to preserve this important archaeological site while the authorities concerned are reluctant to take any action against it.

“Despite writing to Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration for several times, the encroachment from three sides of the historical Rawat Fort is still creating difficulties for our team to carry out its repair and conservation work", a senior official of Department of Archaeology and Museums (DoAM) said while talking to APP.

According to the official, the department has completed more than 30 percent of the repair and conservation work of Rawat Fort, but now encroachment especially at the southern side was creating problems and further damaging the already dilapidated fort.

The encroachment is sheer violation of the CDA bylaws that prohibits construction within 200 feet of the historical monuments premises.

However, authorities in CDA are not paying any concern to this issue, the official said.

The restoration and conservation work was initiated side by side by the team hired by DoAM soon after approval of PC-I for “Repair, maintenance and development of Rawat Fort" with the cost of Rs. 28 million.

The department is carrying out this repair work mainly to preserve the fort with damaged boundary walls, 19 ram-shackled rooms, three-domed altered mosque, graves and a deserted mausoleum which were in dilapidated condition for last many years, the official informed.  However, the conservation of the fort will at least help protect this ancient site from further ruining as well as stop the drug addicts and beggar residing there through repair of boundary walls, the official added.

When contacted Director Encroachment, CDA, Fahim Badshah said he was totally unaware of any encroachment issue at Rawat Fort and CDA was busy in taking action against encroachments in other areas of capital. He said he would look into the matter and seek approval from the authorities to take action against encroachment at that fort.

Rawat Fort is originally an ancient Sarai (Inn) situated about 11 miles from Rawalpindi towards Jehlum close to the Grand Trunk Road and appears to have been built during the Sultanate period in early 15th century AD.

Rawat Fort had 45 rooms, out of which 19 ram-shackled rooms exist and others have fallen prey to intentional vandalism of private constructors who have merged the major parts of the rooms into their houses. These rooms once used by travellers of ancient era for staying. According to the description board outside the fort with half omitted words, the fort is associated with the name of Masud, son of famous Mehmood of Ghaznavi in 1039 AD where he was arrested by his rebellious soldiers and eventually murdered in the fort of Giri near Taxila.

The fort is also associated with the name of Ghakhar tribe chief Sarang Khan who fell with his sixteen sons fighting against Sher Shah Suri and buried within the precinct of this monument, it says.

DoAM, Islamabad protected this site under Antiquities Act 1975, but after devolution under 18th amendment of the constitution, Punjab government acquired it.

The DoAM again acquired the site and started initial working on a plan for its maintenance and preservation. DoAM also purchased the road linking the historical site with Grand Trunk Road but shopkeepers and roadside hawkers encroached that.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018