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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Apprehensions over fate of mosques during Central Vista work, Amanatullah writes to PM

Khan wrote that the apprehensions by the Muslim community are underpinned by the demolition of two mosques in Uttar Pradesh in May.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: June 5, 2021 1:28:30 pm
Apprehensions over fate of mosques during Central Vista work, Amanatullah writes to PMView of the Shahi Masjid Zabta Ganj on the Rajpath, where construction work on the central vista project is underway. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

As work on the Central Vista project picks up pace, AAP MLA and Delhi Waqf Board chairman Amanatullah Khan wrote to the Prime Minister seeking assurance that the heritage mosques in the Lutyens’ area would not be touched.

The letter dated June 3 reads: “The undersigned, in his aforesaid capacity, is concerned with the apprehension shared by various persons on social media viz Facebook etc that few mosques situated within the Lutyens’ Zone of Delhi, especially the Zabta Ganj Mosque situated at the end of waterbody near India Gate and mosques situated within the precincts of Krishi Bhawan and inside the vice-president house compound, are facing demolition due to the ongoing Central Vista project.” He also mentioned the Sunehri Bagh Road Mosque and a Mazar near it, and the Jama Masjid at Red Cross Road.

Khan wrote that the apprehensions by the Muslim community are underpinned by the demolition of two mosques in Uttar Pradesh in May. He added that there has been no communication from any authority handling the project to the Delhi Waqf Board regarding any mosque or Waqf property.

When The Indian Express visited the Zabta Ganj mosque at Man Singh Road on Friday evening, work was going on all sides of the 281-year-old structure. The canal that has surrounded the mosque for hundreds of years has dried up, with ducks that used to swim in it now walking around the premises.

A group of labourers who work for MTNL dug up the area in front of the mosque in order to cut old telephone wires. A site engineer said, “The area around the mosque is being beautified. It will be connected to the rest of the avenue. The flooring will comprise Kota stones and water will be filled in later. The clear water will reflect the blue of the stones.”

The area abounds in Jamun trees which, officials, said will remain intact. “No trees are cut. If by chance any tree is touched, it will be transplanted,” said the engineer.

Officials said a distance of 3 feet is maintained between the mosque and the redevelopment work. Workers, who have been at the site since February, said, “Mosque authorities do not have any issues with the work… in fact, they are very cooperative. Sometimes, when we need water for work, they provide it from inside.”

Asad Khan Falahi, the mosque’s Imam said, “The Central Vista work will not harm the mosque since they are not supposed to touch structures that are older than a hundred years… there is certainly a lack of clarity on the other mosques like the ones in the Vice-President’s house or in Krishi Bhawan.”

Officials from the Central Public Works Department, which is implementing the project, refused to comment and said the MoHUA will issue a clarification soon. The Ministry has not responded to queries yet.

Meanwhile, a cold-drinks vendor who has been at the site for over 50 years, said, “This work is only temporary… by November, this entire area will look like Paris.”

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