Prayer in protected mosques: Shahabuddin reminds ASI of GOI-Mushawarat Agreement

By News Desk,

New Delhi: Syed Shahabuddin, ex-MP and former President of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat addressed a letter to Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the raging issue of revival of Namaz in Protected Masjids, suggesting the Government to take a fresh look at the Act of 1958 and amend it to accommodate genuine needs of the local Muslim communities which feel deprived of their Masjids.

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Syed Shahabuddin has also advised the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take a flexible stand and not rely on administration.

He has also reminded the Home Minister and the ASI of the forgotten Government of India-Mushawarat Agreement of 1 March, 1984 on Protected Masjids.

“There are hundreds of ancient temples all over the country which are being used as such, In places the ASI has even permitted to open protected Masjids for performance of Hindu rituals as in Dhar, MP. I request the govt to take an overview of the situation and address the problem in the light of the Agreement of 1984?,” Syed Shahabuddin said in the letter to Home Minister.

“I have seen your recent statement in support of Prohibition of Namaz in Protected Masjids. You appear to have been briefed that this is a new development. It is not. You may not be aware of the negotiations between the Central government and All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, on March 1, 1984. I enclose, the text of the correspondence that led to the negotiation and copies of the Press Note, issued by the Mushawarat as well as of the Draft Minute prepared by the AIMMM, when the Government did not send the draft minute as promised, both these documents were never denied by the govt. or by your predecessor Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao who had led the government team and the ASI appeaars to have forgotten this Agreement.”

Text of Agreement of 1 March, 1984 Transmitted to the Home Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao

(i) In principle, there shall be freedom of Namaz in all protected mosques everywhere.

(ii) Casual prayer by Muslim tourists or visitors shall be permitted every where during working hours.

(iii) Congregational prayers, whether Id, Friday or daily, shall be permitted if there is local demand and there is no alternative, if the mosque is located in a Muslim area, provided it does not call for any amenities or facilities which will require any structural change which would affect the architectural or historical character of the mosque. Such requests as and when received shall be considered sympathetically.

(iv) As far as possible, the Department of Archaeology shall post Muslim attendants to look after the protected mosques.

(v) The Department shall allocate adequate funds from its budget for the maintenance and repair of protected mosques.

In the letter to Home Minister, Syed Shahabuddi further said: All Masjids are, in law, Wakf properties and the question of the management of the Protected Masjids is under discussion between the Central Wakf Council and the Delhi Wakf Board supported by the Ministry of Minority Affairs and the ASI,which is a department under the Ministry of Culture. It is our feeling that the ASI and the Delhi Wakf Board who had agreed to undertake a survey neglected and delayed process. I request you to press them to submit a survey report at the earliest. Since a holy month of Ramazan is beginning soon pressure for the performance of both Friday and Taravih Namaz in some Masjids will increase as in the past.