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Saffron Flags Hoisted, Slogans Raised in Agra Mosque on Ram Mandir Ceremony Day

Omar Rashid
Jan 24, 2024
The police have filed an FIR and arrested 11 people so far.

New Delhi: Police have arrested 11 persons for hoisting Hindu saffron flags atop and inside a Mughal-era mosque in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra district. The incident took place during a ‘shobha yatra‘ taken out by right-wing activists soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed the consecration ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at the site where the Babri Masjid stood till December 6, 1992.

According to the FIR lodged at Tajganj police station in Agra at 00:36 hours on January 23, the caretaker of the Diwan ji Ki Begum Shahi Masjid in Billochpura alleged that around 1,000-1, 500 persons carrying “lathis and sticks” forcibly barged into the mosque at around 3:30 pm in January 22.

“They created complete chaos in the mosque,” said Zahir Uddin, the mutawalli (caretaker) of the mosque. In his police complaint, seen by The Wire, Zahir Uddin said the “anti-social elements” hoisted saffron flags on the minarets, walls and in the inner premises of the mosque. They “desecrated the mosque”, said Zahir Uddin.

The miscreants also raised religious slogans and threatened those inside the mosque, alleged the caretaker. They were “unabashedly using undignified language for the other religion”, the FIR said quoting Zahir Uddin, who was not available for further comments.

The FIR lodged against 1,000-1,500 unidentified persons invoked Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 452 (trespass after preparation for hurt or assault) and 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.

Station House Officer Tajganj Jasveer Singh said they had so far arrested 11 persons for the incident and the search was on for others on the basis of their identification. “Investigation is going on,” the officer said, adding that the arrested persons were not linked to any organisation.

The Wire, however, could not independently verify that yet.

The names of the arrested persons are not yet known.

Also read: Violent Clashes, Crackdown on Documentary Screening on Day of Ram Temple Event

In his police complaint, Zahir Uddin also said that the act was carried out with the intent of “spoiling the atmosphere” in the city. He mentioned that those present near the mosque displayed restraint to prevent any communal flare-up and tolerated the “rowdy” behaviour.

The Rauza (tomb) Diwanji Begum and Mosque, Agra feature in the list of monuments under the Agra Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India. The Rauza belongs to Diwanji Begum, daughter of Khwaja Ghias-ud-Din Qaziwani, said the ASI. “She was the wife of Asif Khan and mother of Mumtaz Mahal.”

The ASI says that the year of construction of the mosque was recorded in a Persian inscription as 1677 and that it represents the Shah Jahani style of architecture. “The mosque stands on a highly elevated podium. Rectangular in plan, it is built of red sandstone. Arches are thrown across the sanctuary. The mosque is crowned by three domes, the middle one being larger,” the ASI said.

The Rauza is in ruins and the tomb superstructure has fallen down, the ASI says. “While the cenotaph chamber is intact, the grave itself is missing. Traces of the foundation wall indicate that it was built upon a square raised platform. The building is flanked by four corner towers.”

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