JIH RTI unearthed shocking info regarding historical buildings

New Delhi: It has been a long-standing demand of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind that five-times regular congregational prayers (namaz) should be conducted in the mosques which are under the supervision of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and the ASI should remove unnecessary obstacles for the same; this entails continuous pressure on the circle officers of the ASI. The mosques and monuments should be protected and the illegal structures, erected on its land or the area having legal protection adjacent to them, should be demolished ensuring that the ASI is carrying out its duty in a responsible manner.

JIH Asst Secretary – Intizar Naeem recently met the Deputy Director of the Delhi Circle of the Archeological Survey and had a detailed discussion with him. Naeem pointed out to the ASI about the miserable condition of the mosques and monuments under its supervision and said that the ASI has itself confessed to Jamaat that in Haus Khas Complex, situated in one of the most important places of New Delhi and which is under ASI supervision, has around 27 illegal structures constructed on its premises. However, the ASI has been unable to take any action and remains a mute spectator to these illegal encroachments. The concerned officer excused himself by saying that they serve notice to the owners of the illegal encroachments and inform the related departments including the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) for demolishing them. They (ASI) do not have the power to demolish the structures directly and have to approach the other departments like Revenue.

But the practical situation on the ground is that among the 116 mosques, mandirs and monuments all over the country under the ASI, just one circle having the Taj Mahal which falls under the Protected and Regulated Area has 178 illegal structures. The ASI has earned a revenue of Rs 22 Crores from the Taj Mahal in only one year (2014) and so it is indeed regrettable that the number of encroachments around the Taj is increasing day by day. JIH reminded the Agra Circle of the ASI multiple times (regarding the encroachments) but still they only issue customary notices to the concerned departments – nothing more. In fact, though the RTI it came to light that ASI has not even issued any reminder to the concerned departments for taking some decisive action. It is very shocking to note that only 2 illegal structures were demolished on land under the ASI supervision in 2018 in the city of Hyderabad.

One can conclude that if the attitude of the ASI and related Central government departments remains such towards the rich treasure and priceless legacy of India’s history, then this raises a big question mark on the survival of these extremely precious historical monuments. What is surprising is that neither the ASI nor the government is bothered to look after the mosques under its supervision nor are they ready to handover them to the Muslim community so that prayers (namaz) could begin there and they could be protected properly with the help of the government machinery.

We hope that the State Waqf Boards, Central Waqf Council, National Minority Commission, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Muslim MLAs and MPs, Muslims organizations and leaders shall pay due attention to this critical problem and compel the government to take the necessary action.

Among various activities carried out by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, it also tries to ensure the protection and survival of historical mosques and buildings under the control of the Waqf and Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Intizar Naeem, the JIH Assistant Secretary looking after National and Community affairs, has filed several RTIs in the last few years related to social, national and community based important issues seeking information from departments in the Center and the States as well as universities. He has filed around 1400 RTI’s and received replies for most of his queries. Majority of the RTIs filed by Naeem are related to the Waqf department which have been sent to the State Waqf Boards and the ASI.