AGRA: Defying the ban by the Archeological Survey of India, members of the Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee offered namaz at the mosque inside the Taj Mahal complex on Tuesday. However, the ‘vazu tank’, where the namazis clean themselves up before offering prayers, remained locked and the committee members washed themselves with drinking water before offering prayers.
Talking to media committee president Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi said that the ASI workers tried to stop them, but when they asked them to call their seniors, they backed out. Imam Syed Sadiq Ali, whose family has been leading prayers at the mosque for several decades, reached the mosque on Tuesday and led the prayer, despite having been told by the ASI to come only on Fridays. Zaidi said, “Now we all will continue to offer the namaz here as this has been the practice for well over 400 years”. He further added that no department or law can stop them from offering prayers at the mosque, as this is their constitutional right.
When contacted, superintending archeologist (Agra circle) Vasant K Swarankar, refused to comment on it on the plea that he has no official information regarding it. While the ASI officials had claimed they were implementing a July order of the Supreme Court, the apex court had only upheld a local administration’s order barring non-residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque on the grounds of security of Taj Mahal.
Since Taj Mahal is closed for public on Friday, local residents are allowed to offer namaz between noon and 2pm without paying any entry fee. However, on the other days, any visitor, who has bought a ticket could visit the mosque and offer namaz until now.