Shahi Imam denounces DDA's action taken without consulting Muslim groups

Led by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, a large number of people offered Friday prayers at Jangpura B-Block in South Delhi, where a mosque was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority on Wednesday in pursuance of a court order.

Though paramilitary and police personnel were deployed in and around Nizamuddin and Jangpura, the day passed off peacefully with the police allowing the protesters to enter the demolition site after initially refusing them entry.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit met the Shahi Imam and conveyed to him that the government would allow prayers to be conducted at the site. She also appealed to the Shahi Imam to ensure that the prayers passed off without any incident.

At noon, a large crowd gathered on Mathura Road outside the Nizamuddin police station and offered namaz. They then marched down Mathura Road past three police barricades to Jangpura B-Block, where the police allowed the protesters to enter, after the Shahi Imam promised that they would peacefully enter the site in batches of fifty.

Barring minor altercations, the situation was kept under control by the police. While traffic was diverted on this section of Mathura Road, the police also set up pickets and barricades on several pocket roads in Jangpura fearing violence.

Speaking to media persons later, the Shahi Imam denounced the DDA's decision to demolish the mosque without consulting Muslim groups or allowing them to register their protest. He reiterated his claim that the land on which the mosque stood belonged to the Delhi Wakf Board and said he would present the proof in court.

The Shahi Imam claimed that Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy and Ms. Dikshit had promised him that the land would be purchased from the DDA and given to the Delhi Wakf Board to reconstruct the mosque.

He demanded that the police refrain from preventing people entering the site to offer prayers as they had no intention to commit violence. The Shahi Imam criticised the Congress party, which he said was the cause of all the problems suffered by the Muslim community.

After the Shahi Imam left the site, a few hundred people stayed back and attempted to put up a makeshift structure to offer prayers even as the police and paramilitary personnel looked on. The protesters erected a temporary wall around the plot with tin sheets and bricks retrieved from the demolished structure.

East Delhi Member of Parliament Sandeep Dikshit, local MLA Tarvinder Singh Marwah, Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal and Okhla MLA Asif Mohammed Khan visited the site.

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