People forcibly offering prayers at protected sites: ASI | delhi | Hindustan Times
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People forcibly offering prayers at protected sites: ASI

Around 150-170 people allegedly entered and offered namaz by force at the Mohammadi mosque near Siri Fort and a small mosque in front of Qutub Minar in South Delhi on Friday, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) said.

delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2009 00:46 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Around 150-170 people allegedly entered and offered namaz by force at the Mohammadi mosque near Siri Fort and a small mosque in front of Qutub Minar in South Delhi on Friday, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) said.

Both are centrally protected monuments and ASI rules prohibit prayers from being offered at such places.

The number of centrally protected heritage monuments allegedly being encroached for prayers has increased to five.

"More than 150-170 people went to the Mohammadi masjid, broke open the lock of the main gate and forcibly offered namaz," ASI superintendent archaeologist K.K. Muhammed alleged.

Around the same time, another group allegedly went to the Qutub Minar complex and forcibly offered namaz, he said.

"At the Mohammadi masjid, the PCR van and some policemen did come and later we wrote a complaint at Hauz Khas police station. However, the police was not at all cooperative at Qutub Minar. They did not even accept our complaint. We sent it by post today itself," Muhammad claimed.

In March, many people allegedly offered prayers at the Jamali Kamali mosque in Mehrauli. This was followed by Raja Ki Baoli and Mandi Masjid in the Qutub area.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Ajay Kashyap blamed ASI for not writing a complaint in a proper manner. "(Still), we will take legally warranted action if there is a complaint of trespassing," he said.

Muhammed said, "This is an attempt by Delhi Waqf Board. In this way, they will occupy more and more monuments."

When HT went to Siri Fort, a person who identified himself as Mohmd Arshad said, "Yes, we did offer prayers here. Our Imam Mohammed Imran has letter from Waqf Board."

Delhi Waqf Board chairman Matin Ahmed said. "Yes, our people offered namaz there.”

When asked why should they offer prayers at a centrally protected monument, Ahmed said: "The mosque can be 1000 years old, if it is a mosque, prayers should be offered. Let ASI own it, but it should allow us to offer prayers there. We have been requesting (permission) but they have denied it."

Ahmed said increased migration prompted the need for more mosques and hence people go to mosques that are not being used. "In fact, if people start frequenting such monuments, they would be well maintained," Ahmed said.