After a lull of at least 100 years, prayers are being offered again at the 16th century tomb and mosque of Jamali Kamali in Mehrauli. Except this time round the offering of namaaz is unauthorised-this being a centrally protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). An FIR in this case has been lodged at the Mehrauli police station following a complaint by ASI who have also written a letter to Delhi police commissioner to stop revival of worship at the spot.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Superintendent Archaeologist (Delhi Circle)K K Muhammed said as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 and Rules 1959, if pooja/prayer/namaaz was prevailing at any place of worship at the time of its notification as a monument of national importance the same would be permitted to continue. However, if such practice was not prevailing at the time of the monument being notified, no permission would be granted to any community for revival of worship.
The Jamali Kamali mosque was declared a national monument on February 8,1915. “As there was no namaaz taking place at the mosque and tomb at that time, it cannot be permitted now,” he added.
According to Muhammed, “On March 23 a group of people came to offer prayers at the mosque and were refused by our attendant. Next day a group came to my office insisting on starting prayers there and I explained to them that law did not permit that. After heated exchanges they went away, saying they would still offer prayers."
Muhammed said he wrote to the deputy commissioner south district the same day, requesting him for the deployment of preventive security arrangement around the monument. However, no action was taken by the police, he added.
Encouraged by police inaction, these groups continued offering prayers for the next few days and even broke open the lock to the monument, he said. Muhammed termed the police inaction “mysterious and inexplicable,” and as “tacitly supporting the law breakers under undue political pressure.”
“I firmly believe police should not have meekly submitted before such a group as its consequences are of very serious nature. If such activities are not stopped, people from other communities will start indulging in such activities and it will be very difficult to maintain sanctity of protected monuments,” he wrote to the commissioner.
There have been reports that the outfit Jamiat Ulama -e-Hind were in favour of holding prayers at the Jamali Kamali.
Atique Siddiqui, working committee member of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, said the Jamiat's principled stand was that all heritage mosques should be open for prayers but denied the Jamiat was involved in leading namaaz at Jamali Kamali mosque. “The Jamiat doesn't believe in flouting existing laws. It believes in taking legal recourse to solve such disputes,” he said.
Reacting to this, social activist Sohail Hashmi said “You can't just go into a heritage building to offer prayer. This mosque's architecture is a rare example of the connecting link between Sultanate architecture and Mughal architecture."