MLA stopped from building new mosque over ruins of old

Construction halted till ASI work is over

North Delhi Municipal Corporation has asked Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal to stop construction of a mosque on the recently-discovered ruins of the 17th century Akbarabadi Masjid, found at a proposed Metro site at Subhash Park near Jama Masjid.

The decision was taken at a meeting called by NDMC deputy commissioner to take stock of the situation arising out of the building activity led by the legislator at the site. The new mosque’s construction is almost over. 

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had handed over the land to the NDMC on Thursday. 

“The authorities have asked us to halt the construction till the research being done by the Archaeological Survey of India is complete,” said Iqbal, who was present at the meeting. 

The remains of the mosque were first discovered around three weeks ago when Iqbal and his workers had started digging at the site. 

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit had urged Delhi police commissioner on Monday to ask Iqbal not to go ahead with prayers and construction at the site. 

However, Iqbal claimed that the deputy commissioner has only asked him to stop the construction work but the daily prayers can continue.

“It is the month of Ramzan when several locals come here for prayers. Also, they have been praying here for several years,” added Iqbal. 

But an NDMC statement said, “The mayor has declined to grant any permission to any party to carry out any religious rituals at the site in question, till a proper decision is taken.”

ASI officials confirmed that the report on the authenticity of the Mughal-era relics will be out in a week. 

“More than any other issue this has turned into a religious fight. We have already given a report to higher authorities who are looking into it and researching further,” said D N Dimri, superintending archaeologist, Delhi Circle. 

The land is part of the Jama Masjid Redevelopment Plan (JMRD) which falls under the purview of the civic body but has been pending for over a year now. 

Iqbal has also claimed that the new construction was taken up only to protect and provide shelter to women and children who will come to pray at the mosque. 

When asked whether they will demolish the structure since it is illegal as of now, Iqbal said.

“There will not be a need to do that, and we have religious sentiments attached to this place. We even have a letter by the previous nodal officer of the area requesting re-construction of the mosque,” he said.

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