Archaeological Survey of India, which is responsible for research and conservation of cultural monuments in the country, has banned Muslims from offering namaz at the mosque in Taj Mahal premises on all days except Fridays, The Times of India has reported.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had upheld the local administration’s order barring non-residents from offering Friday prayers in mosque, citing security of Taj Mahal.
The monument usually remains closed on Fridays for the public, and residents are allowed to offer namaz between noon and 2 pm without paying any entry fee. However, on other days, any visitor who had bought a ticket could visit the mosque and offer namaz until now.
However, the ASI on Sunday (4 November) locked the ‘value tank’ where namazis clean themselves up before offering prayers, leaving several tourists disappointed.
Namaz has been offered at the mosque for the past several years, and there has been no reason to stop it, President of Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee, Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi was quoted by TOI as saying.
Meanwhile, superintending archaeologist of ASI (Agra circle), Vasant Swarankar, confirmed that the move was in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling. “Namaz can be offered on Friday, that too by residents only,” said Swarankar.