Only local Muslim residents to be allowed to offer prayers at mosque on Fridays, says Archaeological Survey of India
NEW DELHI — Muslims will no longer be able to perform prayers at the mosque located inside the compound of Taj Mahal, in Agra, except on Fridays when the mosque is only open to locals, due to a decision by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) reported on Monday.
According to the directives issued by the Archaeological Survey of India, Muslims will be allowed to offer prayers at the Taj Mahal mosque only on Fridays.
The decision was taken in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court of India, Vasant Swarankar, superintending archaeologist at ASI’s Agra chapter, told the Times of India.
“Namaz (prayer) can only be offered on Fridays and that, too, by local residents only,” Swarankar said.
Local residents are allowed to pray between noon and 2 p.m. on Fridays without paying the entry fee after showing identity proof. Before the decision, non-residents were able to offer prayer on any day other than Friday by buying a visitor’s entrance ticket.
ASI also reportedly told the imam and mosque staff to come only on Fridays.
Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, president of the mosque’s management committee, termed the decision as an “anti-Muslim” move.
“This show their mindset. The order is illegal and you cannot prohibit residents from offering prayers on other days,” Zaidi told Anadolu Agency.
A group of students from Noida, who wanted to offer namaz at the mosque on Sunday but could not do so, dubbed the ASI’s move as “anti-secular and retrograde”. There is no logic behind closing the doors of a mosque for namazis,” said one of the students, reports TOI.
Earlier in July, The Supreme Court of India had refused to allow prayers by outsiders at the mosque on the premises of the Taj Mahal, saying the monument’s preservation is paramount.
The court has said that the Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world and people have several other mosques to offer their prayers.
The Taj Mahal is a 16th century marble mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. Thousands of people visit Agra every year to see the famous Taj Mahal.
(With inputs from agencies)