Demolition of mosque stayed

AHMEDABAD, JULY 20. The Gujarat High Court has stayed a move by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to demolish part of a mosque to widen a road in the city. On a petition filed by four Muslims who said they were offering namaz regularly at the Mad mosque, Mr. Justice M.S. Shah, stayed the demolition move and issued notices to the Municipal Commissioner, the District Collector, Ahmedabad, and the administrator of the mosque and the trustees of the Hazrat Peer Shah Alam Roza Trust. The notices are returnable on August 2.

Mr. Haroobhai Mehta, a former Congress(I) member of the Lok Sabha, who appeared for the petitioners, argued that the move to demolish about 70 per cent of the 500-year-old mosque amounted to an infringement on religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution and was discriminatory against a religion.

A spokesperson of the Corporation said the Civic Estate Department and the City Improvement Trust in consultation with the administrators of the mosque had drawn up the plan to partly demolish the mosque as it was hindering traffic. With the increase in population and expansion of the city, the traffic on the road presently flows on two sides circumventing the mosque. The civic body's new town-planning scheme proposes to widen the road which cannot be achieved without demolishing part of the mosque. The area, with a large Muslim population, has other mosques located in close vicinity where prayers are offered.