Before the first light of dawn on Tuesday, January 30, a team Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials accompanied by police, reached Mehrauli area in the South Delhi district to demolish a 600-year-old mosque.
The mosque was razed and the debris was quickly removed before the worshipper could come for the pre-dawn (Fajr) prayers. When the masjid imam reached the site, he was not allowed to enter the mosque and his phone was snatched to prevent him from contacting others during the demolition.
The mosque, also known as Jinnat Wali Masjid or Dargah Akhundji, was demolished between 5:30 am to 6:00 am, in the presence of police personnel who put up barricades to prevent the entry of worshippers.
According to the masjid’s imam, Zakir Hussain, the entire demolition happened before the azan for Fajr prayers. He alleged that the debris was quickly removed to conceal the demolition from the public eye.
“I was not allowed to enter the masjid by the DDA officials. The officials forcefully took away my phone so that I could not contact anyone when the demolition was happening,” he said, adding he was not even allowed to take copies of the Holy Quran, which were inside the mosque.
The Imam alleged the DDA officials also demolished a nearby madrasa along with clothes and food items of 22 students enrolled there. “Fortunately, the students were not present at the time of the demolition,” he said.
As news spread, the following day, on Wednesday, the Muslim community denounced the act as a blatant violation of law by the Delhi Development Authority. They claimed that the court had ordered demarcation of the religious site. The DDA, however, took the law into their own hands, and demolished the mosque.
Speaking to reporters, an elderly Muslim man said the authorities brazenly violated the Delhi High Court demarcation order.
“The Delhi High Court, in 2012, had issued a demarcation order. The district administration as well as the police have flouted the court’s order. As per our knowledge, there was no order of demolition of the mosque,” he said.
“When we questioned about the illegal demolition, the DDA just said ‘we have order from the top’,” he said.