One of India’s key Islamic organisations, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has approached the high court over the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) notice asking for public opinion for the demolition of the Sunehri Bagh masjid, requesting the court to restrict the MDMC’s action against the structure.
The mosque located close to the Secretariat in Delhi’s Lutyens is reportedly 150 years old and is a grade Grade-III Heritage Building.
The Muslim body while expressing deep concerns over the safety of the mosque has requested the court protect the historical and religious heritage of the structure. “This mosque has historical and cultural status and is included in the list of 141 historical places of Delhi. It also has the status of religious importance. The then Imam of Jama Masjid (grandfather of the present Imam) signed an agreement with the then Prime Minister Nehru on behalf of the Muslims of India which guaranteed the security of the mosque.”
The Muslim body further added that the Delhi High Court in an order dated December 18, assured that there would be no damage to the mosque. “Despite the assurance of the court, taking public opinion to break it is unconstitutional,” said the Muslim body adding that the case is subjudice.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also accused the NMDC of ignoring facts and acting against the ‘Place of Worship Act 1991’ which guarantees the status quo of all the places of worship post 1947.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Secretary, Malik Motsim Khan said, “Instead of taking a public opinion on the traffic problems arising from the mosque, the NDMC should take expert opinion and investigate the feasibility of alternative solutions like building a roundabout, an underground tunnel or an overhead flyover around the mosque,” adding that, “Selectively erasing history is both vindictive and disappointing and should be avoided if our government believes in justice and fairness.”
Delhi civic body seeks permit to demolish Sunehri Bagh masjid
Days after the Delhi High Court disposed of a petition by the Delhi Waqf Board seeking protection for the Sunehri Bagh Mosque against demolition, the Delhi Municipal Council has sought permission from the Heritage Conservation Committee for its demolition while issuing a notice inviting public objections and suggestions before it is razed.
The demolition of the mosque located near the Delhi Secretariat is in contention as the Delhi Traffic Police deemed it necessary to ensure “sustainable mobility in the area of the roundabout of Sunehri Bagh.”
The Waqf Board in its petition had expressed apprehension over the Sunehri Bagh mosque’s demolition and had urged the High Court to protect it from “such arbitrary and illegal action.” However, the NDMC argued that the Waqf board’s apprehension that the municipal council would act outside the law was baseless.
The court on December 18, disposed of the writ petition taking note of the NDMC’s argument. Earlier, on July 7, the court had issued orders to maintain the status quo until a joint inspection, attended by both parties, was carried out.
The second date of the inspection was set for July 12 as the Waqf Board stated that its representatives were unable to join the first one on June 28, citing a delay in receiving the notification, only post the inspection time.
However, after two joint inspections, the authorities concluded that the Sunehri Bagh Mosque needed to be removed and the area redesigned to ensure the free flow of traffic, said the NDMC.
The plea filed by the Waqf Board had accused the NDMC of demolishing several waqf properties illegally overnight “in a brazen display of highhandedness.”