Minaret of 18th-century Ayodhya mosque set to be demolished; case in High Court

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Ayodhya, 21 July: The Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) is considering demolishing the minaret of an 18th-century Shia community mosque in Ayodhya because it is impeding the development of an artery six-lane road in the temple town.

The minaret of the mosque, Masjid Khajoor Wali, located in the town’s Gudri Bazar, is encroaching on roughly 3 metres of the proposed enlargement of Ram Path, which connects the Shahadatganj region on the Lucknow-Ayodhya route with Naya Ghat in Ayodhya city.

The mosque administrators have been granted time to construct a beam to keep the building intact before removing the minaret, they added.

Meanwhile, the mosque committee has filed a lawsuit against the demolition notifications in the Allahabad High Court.

On March 3, the court issued an order requesting responses from the Shia Waqf Board, the Ayodhya District Magistrate, and the PWD. A Bench heard the case and set the next hearing date for April 21.

According to Advocate Intezar Hussain, a member of the mosque committee’s legal team, all parties’ responses have been filed in court. “We told the court in the petition that the mosque is a historical structure and a symbol for the Shia community. We have petitioned the court to order that the minaret not be demolished.

The matter was last heard on March 3, but it was not heard owing to a lack of time. We will request a court date as soon as possible,” Hussain added.

On Thursday, mosque caretaker Parvez Hussain said the administration is pressuring mosque management to demolish a piece of the mosque, which is registered with the UP Shia Waqf Board.”The administration has repeatedly told us to demolish the minaret, which is posing hurdle in the way of the Ram Path during the survey. They said about a year ago that the minaret would have to be removed,” Hussain explained.

According to mosque committee authorities, Nawab Mehdi Hasan Khan erected the edifice around 1750.

“We wrote to the top authorities in December last year, but received no response,” Hussain said, adding that members of the Shia community recite namaz at the mosque five times a day.”Some shops in the complex were removed, and we accepted compensation for them. However, because the mosque is an old structure that is important to the Shia community, we do not want its part to be demolished,” Hussain continued.

The mosque committee stated in a letter to the Ayodhya Divisional Commissioner in December last year that there is some nazul (government) land to the north of the mosque that may be utilised for road widening to spare the minaret from demolition.

Ali Zaidi, head of the UP Shia Waqf Board, acknowledged that the mosque is registered with the Board. “This has been going on for a while… The mosque committee has filed a complaint with the court. We’ve also spoken with the district administration,” Zaidi added.