No prayers were held at any Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monuments on Friday after a stern warning from Home Minister P. Chidambaram prompted heavy security by police and paramilitary force at several monuments in Mehrauli.
Since morning, personnel from Delhi police, ITBP, BSF and the Sashatra Seema Bal were spread in large numbers around the protected monuments in the area — Qutub Minar Complex, Rajao Ki Baoli, Jamali Kamali monument and Mandi Masjid — all of which have been witnessing attempts of forced entry to offer prayers.
Around 1.15 p.m., a group of 60-70 persons reached the main gate of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park to reach Jamali Kamali monument, but were stopped by the police. However, unlike last Friday — when after police stopped a similar group’s entry, it had started praying on the busy Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road — this time the police allowed them to offer namaz at the main gate of the park.
“The prayers were offered in a peaceful way and there was no tension,” said a senior police official present at the spot.
The ASI officials breathed easy after 2 p.m. when the people who had come to offer prayers at a small mosque near the eastern gate of Qutub Minar and the Jamali Kamali monument left peacefully. Some people also made an attempt to enter the Mandi mosque but again were prevented by police.
On August 1, the Home Minister had announced that the government would not allow prayers in monuments protected by the heritage agency except in 12 structures.