The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has banned the offering of Namaz at the Taj Mahal on all days except Fridays. The decision comes in the wake of a Supreme Court verdict in July which upheld a local administration’s diktat that sought to stop non-residents from offering Friday namaz at the mosque in view of the security of Taj Mahal.
Superintending Archaeologist, ASI (Agra circle) has said, “Namaz can only be offered on Fridays and that, too, by local residents only.” President of Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee, Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, has blamed the “Anti-Muslim” mindset of the central and state governments for the decision. On Sunday, the ‘vazu tank’ from where Namazis draw water to clean themselves before offering their prayers was closed by the ASI.
“Why for such prayers they should go to the Taj Mahal,” the Supreme Court bench had said while upholding the diktat of the local administration barring non-residents from offering Namaz at Taj Mahal, adding “There are other mosques also. They can offer their prayers there”.
The Supreme Court, in its July verdict by a three-member bench presided by former CJI Deepak Mishra, had stated that the Taj Mahal must be preserved as it is considered one of the wonders of the world and there was no need to conduct Islamic prayers inside its premises.
The Sunni Waqf Board was in the legal battle against the ASI for rights over Taj Mahal. They had argued that the ownership of Taj Mahal was granted to them by the emperor Shah Jahan. The Supreme Cout had dismissed the claim and stated that they should furnish transfer deeds with Shah Jahan’s signature.