Saya sangat kaget dan sedih membaca berita ini di BBC. Wartawan ini sedang tinggal di kota Delhi di India. Di dekat rumahnya, di pusat kota, ada tanah liar yang disebut “taman” padahal lebih mirip hutan dengan tempat jalan kaki di tengahnya. Di dalam taman tersebut, ada reruntuhan dan gedung peninggalan dari zaman dulu, dan salah satunya adalah sebuah masjid berumur 700 tahun. Bangunan tua di dalam taman tersebut tidak dipedulikan oleh Pemda setempat, dan tidak dilestarikan.
Si wartawan berusaha untuk membuat orang lain tertarik pada gedung2 itu, tetapi tidak ada yang mau peduli. Akhirnya dia gabung di sebuah situs internet untuk orang yang suka pura-pura mencari harta karung. Dia menaruh sebuah botol kecil dengan paperclip di dalamnya di dalam masjid tua tersebut, sebagai “harta karun” yang bisa ditemukan oleh seorang petualang. Lalu dia membuat petunjuk dan memberikan koordinat supaya orang lain bisa mencarinya bila mereka datang ke Delhi.
Setelah beberapa waktu, ada balasan di situs dari seorang turis Amerika yang mengatakan koordinatnya salah. Si wartawan kembali ke taman dan ngecek apakah koordinatnya benar dan apakah botol kecil itu masih ada di dalam masjid tua itu. Ternyata koordinatnya memang benar. Tetapi botol tidak bisa ditemukan lagi, karena masjid berumur 700 tahun itu sudah tidak ada lagi. Sudah dihancurkan rata dengan tanah, karena sedang dibangun tempat bulu tangkis di situ, untuk pertandingan antara negara sekutu Inggris (Commonwealth Games) pada tahun 2010.
Saya carikan info di Wikipedia. Ternyata, jumlah penduduk Muslim di Delhi adalah 1.6 juta orang Muslim, atau sekitar 11% dari jumlah penduduk total (sekitar 10 juta). Sangat disayangkan kalau 1.6 juta orang Muslim itu tidak sanggup melindungi dan melestarikan sebuah masjid tua di pusat kota. Sangat menyedihkan bahwa semua penduduk yang diajak bicara oleh si wartawan malah tidak tahu ada masjid tua di dalam taman tersebut.
Secret parks and forgotten ruins
As Delhi prepares for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, former BBC South Asia correspondent Sam Miller finds how the ancient city is changing at breathtaking speed.
It is now - depending on how you calculate such things - one of the five most populous cities in the world, with a cultural life that equals or surpasses that of its Indian rivals.
Unsurprisingly, then, there are construction sites all over the city. But despite this extraordinary speed of development, Delhi remains both the leafiest and most archaeologically impressive of the world's megacities.
Most evenings, just before sunset, I walk or run in a huge secret park in the heart of modern Delhi. It is really a jungle with footpaths, known only to those who live close by. And peeking out of the jungle are the ruins of one of Delhi's earlier incarnations, known as Siri Fort, the capital of the Khilji dynasty built in the early 14th Century.
These ruins include one magnificent cathedral-like building - three stories high - that always seems destined to topple over in the next storm. It is popular with peacocks, but I have never seen another human there. Delhi is littered with such ancient ruins, so many indeed that the ones in my park are not even included by the Archaeological Survey of India in a list of more than 1,000 heritage buildings in the city.
Anywhere else in the world these ruins would be a major tourist attraction. Parts of the walls of Siri were recently excavated and restored and the workmen told me why they were doing it.
"It's for the Commonwealth Games," they said. Except of course it is not. These ancient walls have absolutely nothing to do with the Games, which have become kind of Delhi shorthand for any piece of urban development that the authorities want to be completed by 2010.
Two summers ago, back in my local jungle park, I found another ruin, in an area of wilderness so thick with undergrowth that I had to beat my way through it with a stick. There, long-forgotten, was half a mosque, a tree growing out of one of its walls, but the perfect rosettes and squinches created by artisans 700 years ago still intact. I tried to interest my friends and fellow journalists in my discovery of an unlisted ancient mosque in the heart of modern Delhi.
I told people about it at Delhi parties and they yawned. I telephoned a leading historian of the medieval Sultanate period, who promised he would get back to me. A guide book writer did come to see and she told me it will be mentioned in the next edition. But I failed to get anyone else half as excited as me.
I tried the internet, joining a "treasure hunt" website called geocaching.com. I hid my treasure - a few coloured paper clips in a plastic jar - inside the mosque, and posted the map co-ordinates on the website. I waited for eager treasure hunters to track down the mosque.
I went away on holiday and an irate American traveller posted a note on the website to say the co-ordinates were wrong and that he had been chased away by an angry pig.
On my return I went back to the mosque and discovered that my co-ordinates were correct. The American had not gone to the wrong place. The mosque had gone. It had been bulldozed and there was no sign it had ever existed. The wilderness had become a building site and squash and badminton courts were being built for - yes - the Commonwealth Games. No-one made a fuss and I have found it hard to make the case that this archaeologically super-rich city is much poorer without one old tumbledown mosque.
And though I have been able to immortalise it in photos and text in a book I wrote about my adoptive city, I am also aware that it is just one of dozens of minor ruins that have disappeared in recent years. And more will almost certainly go as the pace of development continues to accelerate. Delhi is a city that is more proud of its future than its past.
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Secret parks and forgotten ruins