Hawzah News Agency (Agra, India) – The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Sunday issued an order banning daily namaz offered by Muslims at a mosque in Taj Mahal premises. According to the ASI order, Muslims can offer namaz at the Taj Mahal mosque only on Fridays. While the ASI cited a Supreme Court order, the management of the mosque said an 'anti-Muslim' mindset of the government at the centre and state is behind the controversial move.
Until now, visitors who had bought a ticket were allowed to offer namaz at the mosque in Taj Mahal premises except on Fridays. Taj Mahal remains closed for public on Friday. However, local residents are allowed to offer namaz between noon and 2 pm without paying any entry fee. On Sunday, the ASI restrained Muslims from offering namaz at the mosque and locked the vazu tank where namazis clean themselves up before prayers. Taj Mahal Ranked 6th in World and 2nd in Asia's Top 2018 Landmarks.
The ASI also asked the imam Syed Sadiq Ali and staff of the mosque to organise only the Friday prayer. “Namaz can only be offered on Fridays and that, too, by local residents only," Superintending archaeologist, ASI (Agra circle), Vasant Swarankar told a newspaper, adding that the body was implementing an order of the Supreme Court. Notably, the apex court had barred non-residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque for security purposes.
Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, president of Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee, said there was no reason to ban daily prayers at the Taj Mahal mosque as it had been happening for the past many years. He said the governments at the Centre and state have an 'anti-Muslim' mindset and vowed to raise the issue with the ASI today.
In January this year, the additional district magistrate of Agra passed an order which said that 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 the grounds of security. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court, which upheld it.