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'Sunehri Bagh Masjid Demolition Matter Referred to Heritage Committee': Police to HC

The court was addressing a petition filed by Abdul Aziz, the mosque's imam, challenging NDMC's notice for the removal of the medieval era mosque to 'alleviate traffic'.
Sunehri Masjid. Photo: X

New Delhi: The Delhi Traffic Police on Wednesday (February 28) told the Delhi high court that the matter concerning the demolition of the 150-year-old Sunehri Bagh mosque has been referred to the heritage conservation committee (HCC) of the urban development ministry.

The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) in December had issued a public notice for the removal of the medieval era mosque after they received references from Delhi’s traffic police to “ensure sustainable mobility” of vehicles in the area. The NDMC then sought public opinion on the proposed removal of the mosque.

The notice had come shortly after the high court had dismissed a plea by the Delhi Waqf Board (DWB) that sought to restrain NDMC from demolishing or altering parts of the heritage structure.

The court was addressing a petition filed by Abdul Aziz, the mosque’s imam, challenging this notice. Aziz argued that the notice was issued with malafide intention and lacked any evidence or research demonstrating traffic congestion due to the mosque’s presence, the Hindustan Times reported.

During the court proceedings, senior advocate Sanjay Jain, representing the traffic police, informed the bench that the petition challenging the NDMC notice had effectively resolved itself. This was because the matter had been referred to HCC following the consideration of public opinions.

Aziz and DWB, represented by advocate Viraj Datar and senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose, maintained that the notice was contested on grounds of competence, emphasising that it could not have been issued under the provisions of the law.

Also read: Mosque on Govt’s Demolition Radar Has Ties to India’s Constituent Assembly

Earlier, NDMC, through advocate Shriharsha Peechara, had assured the court that no action would be taken until HCC makes a final decision. “The decision has to be taken by the HCC, not by us… I can’t even touch a brick without HCCs permission,” Peechara had submitted before the bench.

Earlier this month, the high court had refused to entertain a plea filed by the Waqf Welfare Forum seeking a similar relief, the paper reported.

Backlash on NDMC’s move

Indian History Congress (IHC), national level organisation of historians, had called the NDMC’s decision “unacceptable and unwise” and said that there has been a “constant attempt to erode our medieval architectural heritage in recent times” in a resolution passed earlier this year.

“Apart from its intrinsic importance as a relic from an era of the city’s history, its subsequent history during the construction of New Delhi is also of relevance. Its location on the roundabout is evocative of the town plan of New Delhi which sought to incorporate many historic structures, particularly those in active use as features of the new city plan instead of demolishing them.

The proposal to remove the roundabout is unacceptable and an unwise modification of an important feature of the street plan of New Delhi of which roundabouts are an integral and essential feature,” IHC’s resolution said.

This mosque had also earned Heritage III status for its historical significance in 2009.

“Sunehri Bagh Masjid is not just a mosque, it has a history that is closely associated with several of our freedom fighters. Hasrat Mohani, member of our Constituent Assembly used to stay here while attending the meetings. Care for its illustrious history,” wrote historian S. Irfan Habib on X.

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