May 29, 2024

Moon Desk: The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is facing a wave of criticism following the revelation of its plan to demolish a 150-year-old mosque situated in Sunehri Bagh near Central Secretariat in South Delhi. The contentious decision was made public through a notice, prompting Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, former chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission, to share the information on his social media platform, urging people to voice their objections against this proposed demolition.

In the notice, the NDMC cited Section 202 and Section 207, both in conjunction with Section 11 clauses (n) and (p), as the basis for its application to the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) for the removal of Sunehri Masjid. This move is justified as a response to a reference from Delhi Traffic Police, seeking a traffic engineering proposal to ensure sustainable mobility around the roundabout of Sunehri Bagh.

The notice further called for suggestions and objections from the general public, with a deadline set for January 1, 2024. Objectors swiftly emerged, emphasizing the historical and cultural significance of the mosque, as well as its importance as a place of worship for the Muslim community.

Dr. Zafar Mahmood, Chairman of Zakat Foundation of India, joined the chorus of voices against the plan, urging people to write to the administration in protest. Zafarul Hasan Mujib, a resident of Delhi’s Zakir Nagar, took the initiative to communicate his concern directly to the Chief Architect of Delhi, expressing dismay over NDMC’s decision.

Mujib highlighted the multi-faceted importance of the mosque, stating, “This mosque is not just a place of worship for the Muslim community, but also a historical monument with a rich heritage of over 150 years.” He emphasized that the mosque, constructed by the residents of Malcha village, serves as a significant part of the community’s history and culture, witnessing daily prayers and drawing sizable congregations, especially on Fridays.

Adding to the complexities surrounding the issue, on December 18, the Delhi High Court disposed of a petition filed by the Delhi Waqf Board against the demolition order. Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav noted that, “since the parties have largely agreed on the aforesaid issues, therefore, at this stage, this court is not required to adjudicate the prayer any more.” The court’s stance was articulated after the Additional Solicitor General stressed that the administration would not act “in contravention of the legal position.”

The unfolding scenario has sparked widespread concern about the preservation of historical and religious landmarks, pitting the NDMC’s traffic management goals against the community’s desire to safeguard a revered institution. As the deadline for public input approaches, the fate of Sunehri Masjid hangs in the balance, awaiting the outcome of this contentious debate.

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