The Delhi High Court has directed the police to put barricades at least 10 metres before the entrance of 130-year-old Basant Nagar mosque in south-west Delhi to ensure that devotees don’t face obstruction. Justice Prathiba M Singh also asked the administration of the mosque to ensure that there is no gathering of crowd at the shops outside which would create any obstruction to the commuters using the road, stated to be the exit from Vasant Vihar towards Gurgaon.
The order was passed on plea by the secretary of the mosque, located on Rao Tula Ram Marg at Delhi Cantonment, saying that since November last year, barricades were placed at the entrance and three constables posted on picketing duty causing inconvenience to the devotees. The plea sought direction to Delhi Police to remove the barricades from its present place and move it a few metres ahead or behind the gate of the mosque.
The police claimed before the high court that the barricades do not block the entrance to the mosque and it was found that the traffic which comes out from Vasant Vihar going to Gurgaon was exiting from there without any checking and the mosque was located in an isolated area. Accordingly, barricades were put up and a picket has also been put up by the police about 10 metres from the entrance of the mosque, it said.
After going through the records and the photographs, the high court said there seems to be some variance between the version given by the police and the Google Earth images submitted by the Delhi Waqf Board. Even going by the Google Earth images, the barricades have been placed in a zig-zag or staggered manner so as to ensure that each and every vehicle entering the mosque can be checked. However, the photographs placed by the police show that the barricades are beyond the entrance of the Mosque, the court noted and said since there is variance between the two versions, several directions are being issued. The high court said the police shall ensure that the barricades are erected on the road at least 10 metres prior to the entrance of the mosque or ahead of its entrance to ensure that there is no obstruction for the devotees to enter there.
The police shall also ensure that if there is any checking of vehicles which is required, adequate number of constables are posted on the site so as to carry out the checking, either 10 metres before the vehicles enter the mosque or 10 metres after the gate of the mosque, without impeding the devotees from entering the mosque, it said. Regarding the police’ allegations of any unauthorised construction or encroachment, the court said it has not examined the issue and the authorities are permitted to take action in accordance with law.
The mosque management shall, however, ensure that there is no unauthorised construction or encroachment in the mosque area, and the mosque area is only used by devotees to offer prayers, the high court said.