Scores of people carried out a candlelight march at the India Gate on Thursday protesting the removal of copies of Quran, prayer mats and other materials from Qanati Masjid, a listed heritage structure in Jor Bagh, as part of the encroachment removal drive by the NDMC.
Officials of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) along with police force had last week gone to the spot and removed aforesaid elements, terming it as encroachment on public land.
Supporters of the Anjuman-E-Haideri, which manages a nearby dargah and other places of worship, had embarked on an indefinite dharna protesting the action by the authorities and demanding action against the 'guilty officials'. The candlelight march was taken out after neither police nor the NDMC took action against their officials, the protestors claimed.
Anjuman-E-Haideri had earlier approached the National Minorities Commission, which in turn, had asked NDMC the basis on which action was taken. Said commission chairperson Wajahat Habibullah,"I spoke with (NDMC chairperson) Parimal Rai, who agreed that action was not needed. He also told me that they (NDMC) are returning the confiscated materials."
Anand Tiwari, NDMC spokesperson, explained, "All confiscated material goes to the store. The party concerned pays the amount against the challan and takes back its goods." However, Tiwari refused to say anything about Rai talking with Habibullah.
Incidentally, police did not want the protestors to march till India Gate. "We have requested the protesters not to hold the candlelight vigil at the India Gate. No permission has been granted to them to proceed towards it," maintained KC Dwivedi, additional commissioner of police (New Delhi) before the march.