Five years ago,DUAC brought Mughal-era mosque to ASI notice

In 2007,Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) had referred to a possibility of excavation at the Subhash Park site,which is now mired in controversy owing to the recently dug-up remains of what is believed to be a Mughal-era mosque.

Written by Pragya Kaushika | New Delhi | Published: July 24, 2012 2:04:33 am

In 2007,Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) had referred to a possibility of excavation at the Subhash Park site,which is now mired in controversy owing to the recently dug-up remains of what is believed to be a Mughal-era mosque.

The DUAC officials had suggested that Archeological Survey of India (ASI) take up the matter and look into the possibility that excavation at the site could bring up remains of the Akbarabadi Masjid.

Once again in 2009,DUAC revisited the idea of excavation in the area,by ASI,to look for remains of the mosque. This was when the commission was engaged to work on the “redevelopment of area around Jama Masjid”.

Senior officials believe that if the matter had been taken seriously by ASI,and pursued by DUAC,the situation at the Subhash Park site would have been different.

Pradeep Sachdeva,the architect engaged to draw up a masterplan for the redevelopment project,recalled the mention of Akbarabadi mosque.

“There was a set of observations by DUAC,and ASI and the erstwhile MCD were aware that redevelopment plan of Jama Masjid will require excavations. It was mentioned by DUAC secretary,during committee meetings,that possible excavation of Akbarabadi mosque should be considered,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva said ASI officials were an integral part of every meeting convened with regard to the redevelopment plan.

Director General of ASI Gautam Sengupta refused to comment on the issue. “The matter is sub judice,therefore,it will be inappropriate to comment on it,” he said.

DUAC chairman Raj Rewal also refused comment.

A letter written by the then secretary of DUAC,Sanjib Sengupta,mentions Akbarabadi Masjid in the Subhash Park area. The commission observed: “Ways of expressing the site of the the historical (Akbarabadi) mosque and its chowk may be explored,perhaps through archeological excavation by ASI.”

Despite the recent directions by the High Court,ASI has yet to take over the land.

“ASI is reluctant to take over the land as the situation is grave. We do not want to relinquish our rights to the land. We will ask ASI to investigate,while land will remain with us,” a senior official at North Municipal Corporation said.

In his report presented in the House on Monday,Commissioner of North corporation P K Gupta said,“North Delhi municipality handed over the land to DMRC on April 11,2012. During excavation historical remains were unearthed from a site near Jama Masjid. North Delhi pursued local MLA Shoaib Iqbal not to carry out construction or ritual rites at the site till the High Court decides on the matter. ASI is yet to take possession of the land.”

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