– Uzma Ausaf
New Delhi, Dec. 26: Ever since the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry decided to take over 123 properties of the Delhi Waqf Board in February this year, more and more mosques and graveyards have been in danger. In some cases, only the extra portion deemed illegal and addition has been removed, while in others, complete inspection of the property has been undertaken.
A few months ago, the Jama Masjid on Red Cross Road was surveyed by the Land and Development Office. The masjid authorities were asked to submit documents to substantiate their claims over the 300-year-old masjid which was once a part of the Raisina village, and now it attracts central government staff members besides visitng dignitaries and MPs, etc.
Now another mosque which falls in the VVIP zone of Lutyen’s Delhi, the Sunehri Bagh Masjid is the focus of attention as it is said to be coming in the way of the widening of the road.
Even as the Delhi Waqf Board has sought protection in the high court for its six properties in the region, including the Sunehri Bagh Masjid, the New Delhi Municipal Council through Department of Architecture and Environs has released a public notice under which it is said to have received reference from Delhi Traffic Police for providing Traffic Engineering proposals to ensure mobility on the round-about of the masjid. For the same an application has been sent to Heritage Conservation Committee for the removal of the late medieval India age Sunehri Masjid. This mosque is a grade three heritage building which has always been in use.
The NDMC has sought objections and suggestions from the general public by January 1, 2024. Incidentally the Sunehri Masjid is listed in Delhi Gazette as a heritage site. Though the traffic Police has cited security and smooth flow of traffic as the main reason for removal of the mosque, members of the Muslim community feel there are alternative rules and diversions for traffic management. The roundabout never sees the traffic coming to a standstill. Incidentally, the mosque was built more than 150 years ago by the residents of Malcha village for offering daily prayers. It remained untouched even when Edwin Lutyens built New Delhi.
To this day worshippers come to the Masjid everyday for namaz and nearly 500 people offer Friday prayers here. It is preferred by officegoers of Nirman Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan and other buildings in the vicinity or offering quick Zuhr and Asar prayers.
One prays the dark clouds on the horizon of the Sunehri Masjid are lifted soon.