Tension defused; controversial mosque site handed over to ASIJuly 21st, 2012 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) A day after the Delhi High Court ordered suspension of the construction of a mosque at an excavated site near the historic Jama Masjid where thousands of Muslims offered Friday prayers, authorities moved in to defuse a potentially volatile situation by handing over the site Saturday to archaeologists.
A police contingent was seen in the area to maintain law and order. Hundreds of onlookers gathered near the site near Subhash Park around 10 a.m. No prayers were offered, unlike Friday when there arose chances of trouble with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists lurking close to the area.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation and police cordoned off the area in the morning and handed over the site, where a building’s remains were discovered early this month during Delhi Metro work, to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Some area people claimed that the ruins were that of the 17th century Mughal-era Akbarabadi mosque and started building a fresh structure at the site after the discovery but the Delhi High Court put a stop on it Friday.
Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdher said: “It is the ASI which has to take over the site immediately to investigate whether Akbarabadi Masjid existed there or not.”
“We are of the opinion that it is the ASI which has to take over the site immediately to investigate whether Akbarabadi Masjid existed there or not,” the court said, after some lawyers brought the issue to the judges’ notice.
Area legislator Shoaib Iqbal has been campaigning for reconstruction of the mosque at the site.
The legislator’s son Aaley Mohammad Iqbal said: “Namaz would take place on the street considering the holy month of Ramadan, people can offer prayer on the street. The issue is related to the sentiments of people.”
According to the ASI, the Akbarabadi mosque was built by Bibi Akbarabadi, one of the wives of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Apparently, the British destroyed it after the first war of independence in 1857.
Subhash Park falls within the restricted zone of two protected heritage sites — Sunehri Masjid and Red Fort. Any construction in the area requires permission from the National Monuments Authority.
The Delhi Metro has already shifted the location of the upcoming station 50 metres from the site.
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- Court stays construction of mosque near Jama Masjid - Jul 20, 2012
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- Raze illegal construction at excavated site: Court - Jul 30, 2012
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- Tell legislator to remove structure near Jama Masjid: court urged - Aug 07, 2012
- IIT-Kanpur to probe presence of Mughal structure in Delhi park - Aug 31, 2012
- Prayers held at rediscovered Delhi mosque, Iqbal seeks settlement (With Image) - Jul 20, 2012
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Tags: archaeological survey of india, archaeologists, chief justice, cordoned, delhi high court, delhi metro, jama masjid, kaul, kishan, legislator, mohammad iqbal, mosque, mughal emperor, north delhi, onlookers, rajiv, ramadan, sanjay, vishwa hindu parishad, volatile situation