Indian Muslims urge urgent repairs at Delhi landmark Jama Masjid


 NEW DELHI DEC 11, 2021 – 11:28 AM GMT+3Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid in the old quarter of Delhi, India, Oct. 1, 2010. (Reuters Photo)

Jama Masjid, one of Indian capital Delhi’s most famous landmarks, is in urgent need of repairs, the management of the 17th-century mosque and Muslim groups said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Mohammed Ansar ul Haq, a member of the mosque’s management committee, said the government was not paying attention to the condition of the historic mosque, which in some parts has fallen into a state of disrepair.

Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, Jama Masjid is regarded as a symbol of Muslim rule in India and is one of the finest examples of the country’s Islamic architecture.

Earlier this year the mosque suffered damages in two dust storms within a week that among other things caused a big block of red sandstone to fall off of the southern minaret.

Heritage activists also recently raised alarm after finding patches of cement on the northern dome of the mosque.

The management said that in absence of any support they were forced to use cement to prevent heavy rains from seeping into the mosque.

“It is not one to two repairs. Almost all the area of the mosque needs restoration work,” said Ansar ul Haq.

He said that the domes of the mosque need early restoration.

“The bricks of the floors have started to come out. Whatever we could do, we have done. But it needs people with expertise to carry out the work scientifically,” he added.

The chief cleric known as the Shahi Imam of the mosque, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, has sought Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, pleading for repairs, especially of the mosque’s iconic minarets.

In a letter to the prime minister, Bukhari said that due to stones that have already fallen from the previous damages, the support of the other stones around them has gone weak and it warrants immediate repairs to avoid any grave mishap.

“I shall be grateful if you instruct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to inspect the monument and commence its necessary repairs, and particularly to inspect the two minarets to ascertain their condition,” he wrote.

ASI is a government body responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments.

A general view of the walled city pictured amid smoggy conditions from a tower of the Jama Masjid mosque in the old quarter of Delhi, India, Dec. 5, 2021. (AFP Photo)

Delay will aggravate damages

All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) – an umbrella group of various Muslim organizations – has also asked the prime minister to direct officials to attend to the mosque as it was not only a piece of national heritage but also an internationally acclaimed place of worship, often visited by foreign dignitaries.

Naveed Hamid, the president of AIMMM, said the minarets, domes and parts of the ceiling are falling apart, and that rainwater seeping in through the domes is compounding the damage to the structure.

Fearing that any further delay will aggravate the damages, he said the magnificent building needs immediate renovation.

He said since a large number of people, including foreign tourists, visit the mosque every day, there is a lurking danger that parts of the structure could collapse at any time, falling on people and causing fatalities.

According to ASI, the mosque does not figure in its list of protected monuments.

Manu Sharma, spokesperson of ASI, said: “The Jama Masjid is not a protected monument under ASI, and the restoration or any work is not usually done by us. We do work only in special cases when we receive requests from them on Government’s directions.”

Speaking to AA, Mehfooz Mohammad, an official of the Delhi Waqf Board, said that they have now ordered a technical survey of the building and will start work once it is completed.

He, however, said that the Waqf Board is taking on the conservation work for the first time.

​​​Divay Gupta, the principal director of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said his organization has offered technical assistance to the mosque management to pursue a scientific restoration.

“If they agree, we will provide technical assistance to carry out the restoration work. It is important heritage and we are ready to give our expertise,” said Gupta.

Founded in 1984, INTACH, a non-profit charitable organization, is engaged in the conservation and protection of India’s natural and cultural heritage.


Categories: Asia, India

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