LUCKNOW: The decision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ban namaz at the mosque on Taj Mahal premises on all days except Friday has drawn ire of Muslim body taking care of the monument of love in Agra.
The Taj Mahal remains closed for the public on Fridays. Only the locals are allowed from 12 o'clock to 2 pm without paying any entry fee.
The ASI officials, however, claimed that the decision was taken in compliance of July order of Supreme Court. The court has upheld the local administration's order which had barred all but the Agra residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque on Taj premises on the security grounds.
Until now, on any other day, visitors who had bought the ticket to the monument of love could visit the mosque situated on its premises and offer namaz.IN course of executing the new orders, the ASI closed the 'vazu tank' on Taj premises where namazis used to clean themselves before namaz.
Taking affront of the ASI decision, Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee (TMIC) has wondered why the decade-long practice was stopped all of a sudden. TMIC president Sayyad Ibrahim Hussian Zaidi charged the present dispensations both at the centre and the state with having an anti-Muslim mindset which was well reflecting in the latest order.
He said that he would meet the ASI officials over the issue. Significantly, the Imam and the other staff of the mosque on Taj premises have been asked to show up only on Fridays. While a group of students were barred from offering namaz on Taj premises on Sunday and they called it a retrograde step, the ASI's superintending the archaeologist Vasant Swarnkar refused to elaborate on the decision.
Namaz could now be offered on Fridays and by the local residents only, he said calling the new order in consonance to the SC ruling.
In fact, in January 2018, the Agra administration had issued a notice asking the Agra residents to bring their IDs to ensure that no one else but only the local residents were allowed to go inside the mosque to offer namaz.
"The step was taken amidst alleged security threats to the monument and complaints that non-Indians including Bangladeshis and others enter the Taj complex on the pretext of offering namaz,-" said an ASI official.
Though a petition challenging district administration's order was moved in the supreme court in July but it refused to intervene saying Taj's security and preservation was of utmost importance.