After namaz on Tuesday, right wingers threaten to hold puja at Taj Mahal
‘Namaz’ was offered at the mosque on Taj Mahal premises on Tuesday, despite objection by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) staff on duty. The ASI officials say ‘namaz’ can only be offered on Friday and not on other week days.Updated: Nov 16, 2018 12:30 IST
The controversy over ‘namaz’ at the mosque on Taj Mahal premises has taken a new turn, with right wing outfits threatening to offer ‘puja’ at the monument which they consider to be a Shiva temple (Tejomahalaya) allegedly converted into the present day mausoleum.
Muslims offered ‘namaz’ at the mosque on Tuesday, despite objection by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) staff on duty, to assert their right to prayers. The ASI officials say ‘namaz’ can only be offered on Friday and not on other week days.
“There is a tradition that ‘Juma namaz’ (Friday prayers) can only be offered if five time ‘namaz’ is performed in a mosque every day. The Taj Mahal came up after the mosque. ‘Namaz’ has been offered at this mosque since the past 400 years while the Acts governing the monument came into existence in 1958,” said Ibrahim Zaidi, ‘sadar’ (president) of Mosque Taj Mahal Intazamia Committee.
Accusing the ASI of an ‘arbitrary mindset’, Zaidi said Muslims would meet the commissioner over the issue.
The video of ‘namaz’ offered at Taj mosque on Tuesday went viral and brought right wing activists on the scene.
Govind Parashar, leader of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal, termed the video an ‘act of provocation’ to which they could not remain silent spectators.
“I was jailed for 7 days for giving a call for ‘aarti’ at Tejomahalaya, otherwise called Taj Mahal, but no action is being taken on offering of ‘namaz’. We will also conduct ‘pooja’ at Taj Mahal which is, in fact, a Shiva temple demolished by Mughal rulers and transformed into Taj Mahal,” he said.
“We are prepared to comply with the Supreme Court orders and directions but despite provision for ‘namaz’ only on Friday, it was offered on Tuesday too and no action was taken. If this continues, no one can stop us from offering ‘puja’ at Taj Mahal,” Parashar said.
Caught in an awkward situation, on Wednesday the ASI officials placed a gazette notification at both eastern and western gates of Taj Mahal specifying that permission was only for Friday ‘namaz’ and Taj Mahal gates were opened from 12 noon to 2 pm for local devotees on the direction of the Supreme Court, despite it being Taj closure day.
“Only the afternoon ‘namaz’, that too only on Friday, continues to be offered at Taj mosque. No other ‘namaz’ is either allowed or performed. As such no new tradition can be allowed and we will comply with directions given by Supreme Court,” said Ankit Namdev, ASI conservation assistant at Taj Mahal.
“Earlier, Taj Mahal remained closed for full day on Monday for years but no demand was made for offering of namaz. This time, an unnecessary issue is being raked up,” complained the ASI official.