Construction stopped at old Delhi mosque site, visitors pour in


New Delhi : Cameras clicked, namaz was offered and there was palpable excitement among the hundreds gathered Thursday at Subhash Park near Jama Masjid – the spot where ruins of the historical Akbarabadi Masjid were unearthed. However, construction of a new mosque there has been stopped.

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The area’s legislative member Shoaib Iqbal said though the construction of a new mosque has been stalled after police intervention fearing law and order problem, volunteers continued to pour in to help labourers at work.

“Police personnel and officials from the municipal body have visited the site twice since morning. We have stalled the construction of new mosque, but also keep the sentiments of people in mind,” said Aziz, an aide of Iqbal.

“Right now volunteers and devotees are helping us build temporary sheds to protect the people from rain while offering namaz,” he added.

It was around three weeks back when remains of the 17th century Akbarabadi mosque were discovered during Metro construction work in the area.

Built by Bibi Akbarabadi, one of the wives of then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the mosque is considered the twin of Fatehpuri Masjid in Chandni Chowk. It is associated with the freedom movement of 1857 during which it was destroyed by the British.

Iqbal later deployed workers for carrying out digging work at the site to rebuild the mosque on the foundation of the remains. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) ordered a stop as the area falls in the regulated zone of world heritage site Red Fort where no construction work is permitted.

By Thursday evening, the site was abuzz with devotees and volunteers who helped erect brick walls over the excavated stone masonry wall with minarets. The volunteers, who have come to help labourers, say it is being sped up as the holy month of Ramzan begins this week.

“Police are ensuring there is no law and order problem. We are also ensuring that ASI’s notice on stopping construction work for a new mosque is being followed,” a police official at the site told IANS.

“North Delhi municipal corporation is taking care of the site as of now,” the official added.

At the site, it has been a “divine day” for Satish and Pinki. The husband-wife duo had come all the way from Ghaziabad to the walled city to volunteer for the new mosque.

“We did not even think of religion here… how does it matter. We just thought of giving our services for the new mosque,” said 33-year-old Satish.