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Muslim Body Criticises ASI For Banning Namaz in Taj Mahal on Days Other Than Fridays

The ASI has come in for criticism after it locked the the ‘vazu tank’ on Sunday, where namazis clean themselves up before offering prayers.

Qazi Faraz Ahmad | News18@qazifarazahmad

Updated:November 5, 2018, 12:14 PM IST
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Muslim Body Criticises ASI For Banning Namaz in Taj Mahal on Days Other Than Fridays
Taj Mahal witnesses a daily footfall of over 1 lakh. (PTI Photo)
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Agra: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has ‘banned’ the offering of namaz at the mosque in the premises of Taj Mahal on all days except Fridays.

The ASI officials said it was an implementation of the Supreme Court’s July order. The apex court has upheld the local administration’s order barring non-residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque on the grounds of security of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal remains closed for the public on Fridays. Only the locals are allowed from 12 to 2pm without paying any entry fee. Until now, on other days, non-locals with a ticket could visit the mosque and offer namaz there.

The Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee has criticised the ASI after it locked the ‘vazu tank’ on Sunday, where namazis clean themselves up before offering prayers. Several tourists were left disappointed. The imam and the staff of the mosque too have been asked to come on Fridays only. Imam Syed Sadiq Ali, whose family has been leading the prayers at the mosque, said such a thing was done for the first time.

Calling the move an “anti-Muslim” mindset, president of the committee Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi said the namaz was being offered at the mosque for decades. He also blamed the state and central governments for the move. “I will be meeting ASI officials on Monday and will raise this issue. The move by ASI to lock up Wazu Khana is reflection of anti-Muslim mindset of the governments,” Zaidi said.

The ASI, however, denied the allegations, saying the move was as per the directions of the Supreme Court. “This was done as per the orders of the Supreme Court. Namaz can only be offered on Fridays and that too by residents of Agra only,” Vasant Swarankar, ASI superintending archaeologist for Agra circle, said.

The Supreme Court in July had dismissed a plea challenging the Agra authority's order which barred non-residents of the city from offering Friday prayers at a mosque in the Taj Mahal complex. A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the Taj Mahal was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and people can offer their prayers at other mosques also.

The petition had challenged the January 24, 2018, order passed by the ADM (City) Agra which said those who are not residents of Agra would not be allowed to enter the mosque situated at the Taj Mahal for offering customary prayers on Fridays on grounds of security.
| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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