ASI, minorities panel to survey heritage mosques
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has suggested a joint inspection of as many as 31 Archeological Survey of India (ASI) protected mosques across Delhi following a demand to open those for prayers.
Officials from the commission, the ASI and the Wakf Board will carry out the joint survey, the commission has suggested after a demand from the Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind, a Muslim organisation.
Several of ASI monuments have witnessed forced entry regularly for offering Friday prayers and Eid prayers too.
As per the archeological act, no religious activity can be allowed at a protected monument or site if the practice was not prevalent there at the time when protection notification for that monument was issued.
These 31 monuments come under two categories: mosques which are not used for prayers but are situated near habitation and hence should or should not be opened for prayers and the other being those which are already being used for prayers.
"Although the commission was not very keen that heritage monuments should be opened for prayers, we nevertheless decided to suggest the joint survey for ascertaining the condition of these mosques," said Wajahat Habibullah, NCM chairperson.
The NCM letter, written in end-July, to the ministry of culture said, "What needs to be noted is that such monuments, although declared protected, are, in fact, often in a state of disrepair, poor maintenance and even undesirable use."
Once the survey is done, the report would comprise three aspects.
First would be the status of maintenance of each of these 31 monuments and steps needed for better upkeep of those mosques which are in poor conditions of maintenance.
"We would also recommend if or not a particular mosque can be opened for prayers and in case, these are opened, who will keep the day-to-day maintenance," Habibullah said.
Few of the 31 monuments are Mohammadi Masjid (near Siri Fort Auditorium), Masjid Jamali Kamali (Mehrauli Archeological Park), Masjid Begumpur (near Sarvapriya Vihar/Malviya Nagar), Moti Masjid (Red Fort) and even Chauburji mosque (near Kamala Nehru Park, DU).
The NCM received a letter from the ministry of culture stating that it has referred the matter to the ASI. The commission is now awaiting ASI's reply.