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Another mosque in eye of storm

Qanati masjid, a wall mosque outside the eastern gate of the Karbala ground in Jor Bagh is in the eye of a storm over attempts at alterations to the structure. Nivedita Khandekar reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 25, 2011 01:08 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Qanati masjid, a wall mosque outside the eastern gate of the Karbala ground in Jor Bagh is in the eye of a storm over attempts at alterations to the structure.

Located inside BK Dutt Colony and listed as a heritage structure under the NDMC area, it has been in a dilapidated state for many years now.

In 2005, Anjuman-e-Haideri, an organisation under the Shia Wakf Board, had filed a case in the Delhi High Court, following a dispute over ownership of the land on which the Mughal-era structure stands.

Claiming that the small park to the south of the Karbala ground is Wakf property and that they wanted to join the two grounds, devotees, under the banner of Anjuman-e-Haideri broke down a wall to the south of the Karbala ground last month.

"We need the additional portion beyond this — a small park — for women. And for Qanati Masjid, we plan to consolidate the flooring and construct a tin-shed, apart from the boundary wall. We do not want to alter the structure," said Anjuman secretary Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi.

"Following the earlier court order, when we tried to start construction, residents hampered our work and called in the police. The police detained 85 men, 13 women and some children," Naqvi alleged.

RP Nagar, general secretary, BK Dutt Colony residents' welfare association said, "Both the Qanati Masjid and the park on south of Karbala belong to the government. All we want is that law and order should be maintained. They should maintain the status quo till the final court order."

There is heavy police presence at the site ahead of the Chehlum (the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at the Karbala) on Tuesday. However, on Monday, the High Court did not give any final orders. The Mughal-era structure has been rated as being of architectural value II in a notification dated October 1, 2009.

This rating is based on the architectural significance and heritage importance of the structure. For alterations or repairs to any heritage structure or monument mentioned in the October 2009 notification, the procedure is clear. First, the person or organisation concerned applies to the NDMC, which, in turn, sends it for approval to the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC). Finally, only when the Delhi Urban Arts Commission approves it, can any alterations be carried out. AGK Menon, member, HCC said, "The NDMC should first refer the proposal to the HCC before giving permission."

Meanwhile, Amit Prasad, NDMC's director, public relations said, "The permission was given on January 19 but it was immediately withdrawn on January 20.” Currently, the wait is on for the next court hearing on February 23.