Effect on the upcoming Jama Masjid metro station not yet certain

A day after the archaeological remains of a structure, supposed to be the 17th Century ‘Akbarabadi Masjid’, were found at Subhas Park in the Capital, it still remained unclear if this development was going to affect the Jama Masjid metro railway station which is scheduled to come up at the park as part of expansion of the third phase of Delhi Metro.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials are yet to receive any communication from the Archaeological Survey of India and the National Monument Authority with regard to the remains of the ‘mosque’ that have been discovered very close to the alignment of Delhi Metro’s Central Secretariat-ITO-Delhi Gate-Kashmere Gate corridor.

A DMRC spokesperson told The Hindu that the location of the Jama Masjid metro station was anyway at least 50 metres away from the site where archaeological remains have been found due to the ongoing excavation by Matia Mahal legislator Shoaib Iqbal.

“Archaeological Survey of India is yet to contact us regarding the mosque and its authenticity as a monument. But we are waiting clearance from the National Monuments Authority (NMA),” the spokesperson added.

For his part, NMA member-secretary Pravin Srivastava said there has not been any discussion since the mosque was excavated. “There is no change in our position. We have not given any clearance yet to the corridor.”

A few months ago it was decided that a small team comprising officials from the NMA, the ASI and the DMRC would examine various monuments lining the “heritage corridor” of the Delhi Metro.

“The team which was constituted met earlier this week to chart out the schedule for the inspections of the various monuments lining the corridor,” Mr. Srivastava said, adding that it would look into issues such as structural impact on the monuments, location of the stations and tunnels and the importance of the monuments lining the corridor, he added.

Mr. Iqbal said after his personal initiative in getting the plot of almost 7.5 acre excavated, a 200-foot-long stone wall buried 10-12 feet below the ground was “discovered” which he claimed were the remains of Akbarabadi Mosque, built by Shahjahan in 1650 in the name of his wife Akbarabadi Begum. He claimed the ASI officials had visited the site and taken its photographs.

Talking about the “historical importance” of the mosque, Mr. Iqbal, who wants it to be restored, claimed it was destroyed by the British after the 1857 revolt as it had become one of the main centres for the meeting of revolutionaries.

“Quran was translated into Urdu in this mosque which was supposed to be the twin of Fatehpuri Masjid in Chandni Chowk, as was claimed in a letter written by the Delhi Urban Art Commission to the architect carrying out redevelopment of Jama Masjid,” Mr. Iqbal said.

The mosque, he said, was also mentioned in the letters of Ghalib and also in a book written by educationist Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

The senior MLA denied that there was any confrontation. “We have no problems with DMRC, MCD and the ASI. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is in continuous touch with us on the issue of the mosque and has extended full cooperation in the matter.”

“We are digging and every day something or the other is being discovered. We have found numerous ceramics and clay pots. I along with the team of excavators have been digging the site near Jama Masjid for the past three weeks,” said Mr. Iqbal, adding that the foundation wall of the mosque was discovered on Thursday.

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