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NDMC in heritage site controversy

Qanati Masjid, a listed heritage structure at Jor Bagh, has once again become the centre of a controversy allegedly after New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) removed copies of Quran and prayer mats, etc., from the spot.

delhi Updated: May 17, 2011 00:29 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Qanati Masjid, a listed heritage structure at Jor Bagh, has once again become the centre of a controversy allegedly after New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) removed copies of Quran and prayer mats, etc., from the spot.

Protesting NDMC's "unwarranted action" in presence of the police force, supporters of the Anjuman-E-Haideri, which manages a nearby dargah and other places of worship, have embarked on an indefinite dharna. They have also approached the National Minorities Commission.

Qanati Masjid is a Mughal-era wall mosque in BK Dutt colony just outside the eastern gate of Karbala ground in Jor Bagh and listed as heritage structure under NDMC area. Since last few months, the place has become a hot spot over the issue of alterations to the structure. On Monday, scores of police personnel dotted the place even as black banners protesting the NDMC action fluttered above the protestors on dharna.

NDMC officials along with police force went to the spot on Saturday morning and removed fixtures such as lights, frames of religious importance and also copies of Quran from the front of the heritage structure. Situation turned tense by evening when hundreds of supporters gathered there to protest the civic action.

The crowd was pacified by Anjuman authorities, who started the dharna at the same site immediately. Anjuman secretary Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi said, "Our dharna will continue till action is taken against NDMC and police officials involved and our copies of Quran, prayer mats and books etc are returned."

Anand Tiwari, NDMC spokesperson, maintained, "The action was removal of temporary encroachment from public land."

NMC chairperson Wajahat Habibullah, who had visited the spot last week, told HT, "The NDMC action does not appear to be justified. We have asked NDMC on what grounds this action was taken."

The area is already witness to a legal dispute between Anjuman and the colony residents in the Delhi high court over the ownership of land.

The next hearing for all these cases combined is slated on May 18.