ASI bar Muslims from offering namaz at Taj, locked up ‘wudu tank’

NEW DELHI: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and members of Masjid Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee spar over Supreme Court order banning Muslims from offering namaz on all days except Fridays at the mosque in the 17th century monument complex.

The ASI in a rather controversial action on Sunday had locked up the ‘wudu tank’, the place where namazis wash themselves up before offering prayers, the members of the committee alleged.

Even the Imam Syed Sadiq Ali expressed surprise at the ASI order that asked him and mosque staff to show up only on Fridays, a Times of India report said.

Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, president of Taj Mahal Masjid Management Committee termed it as an “anti-Muslim” mindset.

“I will be meeting the ASI officials on Monday and will raise this issue. The move by ASI to lock up Wazu Khana is reflection of Anti-Muslim mindset of the governments,” Zaidi said.

Zaidi submitted the memorandum to the office of Vasant Swarnkar, Superintending Archeologist, ASI-Agra circle.

“I have given the memorandum to the ASI official and requested them to allow the namaz as has been the practice for well over 400 years,” Zaidi said.

Denying the allegations Swarankar said, “This was done as per the orders of the Supreme Court, Namaz can only be offered on Fridays and that too by residents of Agra only,” reported News18.

The memorandum has been forwarded to ASI head office in Delhi, said Swarnkar adding “so that they take a legal opinion and revert”. “Till we hear from the headquarters, we are not going to allow namaz inside the premises on any other day except for Friday, that too, only for local residents.”

“No department or law can stop us from offering prayers at the mosque as this is everyone’s constitutional right,” Zaidi was quoted as saying.