600 Years Old Mosque Demolished
By Naveed Uddin Khan Uzair, Staff Writer
A week following the controversial demolition of a 600-year-old mosque in Sanjay Van, Mehrauli, by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), local residents are vehemently demanding the reconstruction of the revered religious site. The mosque, known as Akhunji mosque, along with the Behrul Uloom madrasa, was razed on 30 January, citing them as “illegal structures” within Sanjay Van. The demolition has sparked outrage among the community, leading to calls for restitution.
According to the aggrieved locals, the demolition also targeted a cemetery, exacerbating the emotional and communal distress caused by the action. Fauzan Ahmed Siddiqui, a member of the management committee of Dargah Qutub Sahan in Mehrauli, expressed dismay over the lack of prior intimation and the abruptness of the demolition. Siddiqui emphasized the need for the affected area to be accessible again, especially for burial purposes, highlighting the significant inconvenience caused by the destruction of the cemetery.
Almost 700-yrs-old Akhunji mosque, madarsa, graveyard demolished in #Mehrauli, Delhi.
"I had all documents, tehsil records. We also won a case in Delhi HC in 2022. We pay electricity, water bills to the govt too. But they didn't listen. Why did they demolish it now?" : Imam. ++ pic.twitter.com/s1mv7dd632
— Aliza Noor (@AlizaNoor1501) February 2, 2024
In response to mounting pressure, the Delhi High Court intervened, instructing the DDA to maintain the status quo regarding the land where the historic mosque once stood. The court’s decision came during a hearing on Monday, scheduling further proceedings for 12 February. The court’s directive underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for a fair and just resolution.
Israr Ali, the general secretary of Akhunji mosque, highlighted the property’s inclusion in the gazette of the Waqf board, indicating its religious significance and legal status. Ali criticized the DDA’s unilateral decision to demolish the mosque and urged for its reconstruction. He emphasized the importance of preserving historical and cultural heritage, especially religious sites that hold profound significance for the community.
Siddiqui echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for proper demarcation and protection of the mosque site. He called for transparency and accountability in the decision-making process, questioning the legality of the demolition. Nasir Ali, who has been involved in cemetery operations for decades, raised concerns about the treatment of orphan children and the disregard for religious sentiments during the demolition.
600 Years Old Mosque
The legal battle surrounding the demolition has intensified, with the Delhi Waqf Board challenging the action as illegal. The Waqf board argued that the Religious Committee exceeded its jurisdiction in ordering the demolition, further complicating the matter. The court has called upon the DDA to provide a comprehensive response, clarifying the basis for the demolition and whether proper notice was given beforehand.
As the dispute unfolds in the legal arena, the demands for justice and restoration of the mosque continue to resonate among the affected community members. The fate of the historic Akhunji mosque hangs in the balance, awaiting a resolution that reconciles legal requirements with communal aspirations for religious freedom and cultural preservation.
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