Mosque construction stayed, prayers held

Mosque construction stayed, prayers held

Mosque construction stayed, prayers held

The Delhi High Court on Friday stopped construction of a new mosque on what are believed to be the ruins of the 17th century Akbarabadi Masjid.

Before the court ruling came in on the contentious “re-construction” at Subhash Park near Jama Masjid, a large number of people had already offered the Friday namaz (prayer) at the site.

On Thursday, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation issued orders stopping the construction led by Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal.  Despite that order, people were found to be digging and levelling the ground.

On Friday, the prayers went off smoothly. Women expressed satisfaction over shelter and water facilities provided at the site. Three water tankers had been provided.

The full bench of the high court also told the municipal corporation to hand over the site to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

“We are of the opinion that it is the ASI which has to take over the site immediately to investigate whether Akbarabadi Masjid existed there or not,” the court said. The court also ordered the municipal corporation to cordon off the site.

The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher said: “There should not be further construction on the site. The municipal corporation shall cordon off the area with the assistance of police. The police are also directed to provide full cooperation to municipal corporation.”

Status report

The court also asked the mun­i­cipal corporation to file a stat­us report on the Jama Masjid development plan and slated the matter for hearing to July 25.

The court’s direction came after senior advocate Aman Lekhi and some other lawyers referred to media reports, and alleged that the legislator was illegally constructing a mosque on government land.

Digging in the Subhash Park area for the Delhi Metro project had led to the discovery of the remains of what is said to be a Mughal-era mosque.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad members gave a new twist to the controversy claiming that the stones found at the site bel­onged to a Pandava-era temple.

The VHP wanted the illegal structure constructed so far to be pulled down. Iqbal maintained that the construction had been stopped completely. “We are following the municipal corporation’s orders. I even have the minutes of the meeting we had with the NDMC officials which clearly says that we can continue praying at the site. And it is signed by Subhash Chandra, deputy commissioner of NDMC,” he said.

But NDMC Mayor Mira Aggarwal said: “The corporation took the decision within an hour of that meeting that offering prayers will not be allowed.”

Iqbal said he had formed an Akbarabadi Restoration Committee six months ago under his chairmanship.

“We are asking the commissioner to transfer the land to the committee under Section of 200 (c) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957. The commissioner has the authority to transfer immovable property under special circumstances,” he said.

He gave Deccan Herald a copy of a 2008 letter, indicating that a request had been made for preparing a programme “for the excavation and restoration of Akbarabadi Mosque”.

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