Year on, 'mosque' row still stuck in legal tangle
A year after unauthorised construction at a site near Jama Masjid - where remains of a Mughal-era structure were found - triggered a controversy, the matter seems to have gone to the cold storage. Nivedita Khandekar reports.delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2013 23:03 IST
A year after unauthorised construction at a site near Jama Masjid - where remains of a Mughal-era structure were found - triggered a controversy, the matter seems to have gone to the cold storage.
Locals believe that the remains, found about 20 feet below the surface, are of the 1650-built Akbarabadi mosque that was demolished by the British in the aftermath of the 1857 uprising.
The ruins were first discovered in June 2012 after local MLA Shoaib Iqbal deployed his men for digging at the site, originally slated for the Jama Masjid station of the Delhi Metro.
Soon after, scores of volunteers started construction of a new structure above the ruins. A near-riot situation prevailed when devotees forced their way for prayers after which there was heavy police deployment for days, which continues to date.
The Delhi High Court had then ordered demolition of the unauthorised construction at the site. But the Supreme Court stayed the high court order and the cases are still pending.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had been asked to verify the ruins.
An ASI official said: "We had completed the preliminary ground penetrating radar study and submitted the report to the court and informed it that further study would not be possible without disturbing the unauthorised construction."
The site was sealed after court orders. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation was to carry out the demolition drive in presence of Delhi Police to be followed by an archaeological investigation.
But the matter got embroiled in cross-cases by different groups, with the Delhi High Court agreeing to the demand by one group for the demolition of the unauthorised structure. Another group moved Supreme Court and secured a stay on the high court order.
"The next date of hearing in the Supreme Court is August 19," said an advocate connected with the case.