Demand for reopening of mosque in Charminar in Hyderabad triggers backlash
A signature campaign launched by a minority leader of the Telangana Congress on Tuesday seeking the reopening of the mosque within the historic Charminar monument in Hyderabad for prayers by Muslims has kicked up a controversy.
Congress leader Rashid Khan put up a board at the historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar, saying, “It is our constitutional right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.”
In his simultaneous campaign on social media, the Congress leader said a mosque inside Charminar, constructed in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, was closed long ago by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for unknown reasons.
“We demand that the Central government of India, Ministry of culture and the ASI initiate steps towards reopening the mosque in Charminar for devotees to offer five daily prayers, as five times prayer is mandatory in Islam,” he said.
In the video message shared on Twitter on Wednesday, Khan said he would soon give representation to Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao to see that there is no law and order problem if the mosque in Charminar is reopened.
“Union minister for culture and tourism G Kishan Reddy said there would be a law and order problem. I will submit the signatures to the chief minister, who is a secular leader. If he doesn’t agree to our demands, we shall take up a protest at his official residence Pragati Bhavan,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly reacted to the Congress leader’s demand. He said Charminar is a historically protected monument visited by thousands of tourists from all over the country. “The ASI has closed down the mosque for offering prayers long ago to safeguard it and avoid the inconvenience of tourists during prayers,” BJP official spokesman N V Subhash said in a statement.
Stating that Charminar was no longer a place of worship for several years, Subhash said nowhere in the country would prayers be allowed at the declared protected monuments as it was against law.
“There is a Bhaygalakshmi temple outside Charminar and Mecca Masjid close by, wherein worship and prayers are going on peacefully. Khan is trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the city by raising such demands for political mileage,” the BJP leader alleged.
Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Dasoju Sravan could not be reached for comment, as he was busy in Chintan Shivir of the party.