The controversy started on November 13 when a group of five Muslim men offered namaz inside the Taj Mahal premises and a video of the same was circulated among the locals, prompting a few Hindus threatening that they will hold puja inside the complex.
Taj Mahal is back in the news, credit fresh controversy over offering namaz inside the white mausoleum. The controversy started on November 13 when a group of five Muslim men offered namaz inside the Taj Mahal premises and a video of the same was circulated among the locals, prompting a few Hindus threatening that they will hold puja inside the complex.
According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Taj Mahal is closed for visitors on every Friday. But, according to July 2018 order of the Supreme Court, local Muslims are allowed between 12 noon and 2 pm inside the premises of the monument on every Friday to offer namaz and not on other weekdays.
The move has now invited ire from local Muslims, who argued that they have been offering namaz inside the mosque of Taj Mahal for the last 400 years and no one can stop them from doing so. Muslims say that it is their right to offer prayers inside the Taj Mahal. They say that the court’s order merely bars non-locals on Fridays while there is no word on not allowing namaz on other days.
“There is no such order by the Supreme Court. Only rumours are being spread…,” a local Muslim leader said.
When a few Hindus came to know about the development, they threatened to hold puja inside Taj Mahal which according to them is a temple of Lord Shiva.
“If they (Muslims) will read namaz, we will perform puja,” Govind Parashar, Bajrang Dal leader, said.
The ASI on its part cited July 2018 order of Supreme Court to say that namaz can only be offered on Fridays by local Muslims of Agra, whereas Masjid Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee said that the court’s order means that free entry for locals is on Fridays, while on all other days, anyone who has bought a ticket can offer namaz.
According to Masjid Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee members, the ASI had 10 days ago locked the vazu tank (where Muslims wash hands and feet before reading namaz). However, the ASI said that after the top court’s order, the vazu tank is opened only on Fridays and that it might have been left accidentally open on November 13. It said that upon realising that the tank was left open, officials locked it down.
Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, president of the committee, said that he has now submitted a memorandum to the office of Vasant Swarnkar, Superintending Archeologist, ASI-Agra circle. He said that Muslims will continue to buy tickets and offer namaz on other days as well.
Zaidi said that he has requested ASI to allow namaz as it has been the practice. He said that no department can stop Muslims from offering namaz at the mosque inside Taj Mahal.
“This is our constitutional right,” Zaidi said.
Swarnkar informed that the memorandum has been forwarded to ASI so that they take a legal opinion and revert.
“Till we hear from the headquarters, we are not going to allow namaz inside the premises on any other day except for Friday, that too, only for local residents,” Swarnkar said.
Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been recognised as the second best UNESCO world heritage site in the world. Over 80 lakh people visit Taj Mahal every year.