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HomeNews ReportsUttar Pradesh: 4 arrested for offering Namaz at Taj Mahal mosque on non-Friday, locals say...

Uttar Pradesh: 4 arrested for offering Namaz at Taj Mahal mosque on non-Friday, locals say ASI started enforcing the rule recently

According to the a SC order, offering Namaz inside the premises of the UNESCO-protected world heritage site is prohibited on all days except Friday, but Intezamia Committee chief said till few days ago this order was not enforced by ASI

On Thursday, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested four men for offering Namaz at the mosque in the premises of the Taj Mahal on Wednesday. Three of the accused who hail from Hyderabad and one who hails from Azamgarh have been booked under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code.

“All the accused have now been booked under section 153 of the Indian Penal Code. They have been presented in the court,” said Agra SP Vikas Kumar, on May 26. According to The Archeological Survey of India, offering Namaz inside the premises of the UNESCO-protected world heritage site is prohibited on all days except Friday, as per a Supreme Court order.

The ASI Agra Circle, Raj Kumar Patel was also quoted saying that even on Fridays only residents of the Tajganj locality, where the mausoleum is located, are allowed to pray between 12 pm and 2 pm.

Police said that the four persons had visited the monument as tourists but they were found offering Namaz at the Shahi mosque inside the premises at around 5pm on Wednesday evening. They were caught by ASI officials and CISF personnel, and were later handed over to local police.

However, it has been learned that ASI has started implementing the Supreme Court order of not allowing Namaz on non-Fridays only recently, and till some time ago Muslims used to offer namaz at the mosque on a regular basis. “Namaz has been offered at the mosque of the Taj Mahal regularly. But some days ago the ASI cited a Supreme Court order barring offering of the namaz on the mosque premises except Friday,” said Ibrahim Zaidi, the head of the Intezamia Committee at Taj Mahal. Zaidi further said that the committee has asked the ASI to give the prohibition in writing with proof and also asked them display a board announcing the prohibition to the tourists.

Other regulars have also confirmed that the four arrested were not even aware that namaz is not allowed and they were violating rules. It is also notable that there is no notice board saying that Namaz is allowed only Fridays.  “They had no idea that they cannot offer namaz. They did it by mistake. There was no notice board saying that it is prohibited,” said Vinod Dixit, a tourist guide from Lucknow who accompanied the tourists.

It is evident that ASI has started to implement the Supreme Court order after recent drive by Hindu organisations to reclaim ancient temples which were demolished to build mosques. The issue of Taj Mahal is also brewing around for a while across the country. While some say that there was a Shiv Temple on the spot before Taj Mahal, others deny the fact and claim that the Mughal structure is pride of India and that the country is known worldwide only because of the monument built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

On May 12, the Allahabad High Court rejected a plea seeking the formation of a fact-finding committee to research the real history of the Taj Mahal. The petitioner had sought directions from the court to open the 22 closed rooms of the Taj Mahal and register the observations to put the controversy around the Taj Mahal to rest.

The division bench of Justice DK Upadhyay and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi maintained that the prayers of the petitioner were non-justiciable and that the matter should be left to the historians. “Such debates are meant for drawing room, not for a court of law”, said the Court.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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