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India's iconic mosque needs urgent repairs, says management

People walk at the courtyard of the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of New Delhi on September 21, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk at the courtyard of the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of New Delhi on September 21, 2021. [SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images]

India's iconic Jama Masjid, or main mosque, of the national capital, New Delhi, is awaiting repairs as its domes and other structures have dilapidated, according to the management and Muslim groups, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mohammed Ansar ul- Haq, a member of the mosque's management committee said the government was not paying attention to the decrepit condition of the historic mosque, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, and regarded as the symbol of Muslim rule in India.

Early this year, the mosque suffered damages in two dust storms within a week that damaged its southern minaret, with a big block of red sandstone falling off.

Recently, heritage activists raised the alarm after finding patches of cement on the northern dome of the mosque.

The management said that, in absence of any support, they were forced to use cement to prevent heavy rains from seeping into the mosque.

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"It is not one to two repairs. Almost all the area of the mosque needs restoration work," said Ansar ul- Haq.

He said that the domes of the mosque need early restoration.

"The bricks of the floors have started to come out. Whatever we could do, we have done. But it needs people with expertise to carry the work scientifically," he added.

The Chief Cleric, known as Shahi Imam of the mosque, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, has sought Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's intervention, pleading to repair the mosque, especially its iconic minarets.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Bukhari said that, due to the falling of these stones, the support of the other stones around them has gone weak and it warrants immediate repairs to avoid any grave mishap.

"I shall be grateful if you instruct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to inspect the monument and commence its necessary repairs, and particularly to inspect the two minarets to ascertain their condition," he wrote.

ASI is a government body responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments.

Delay will aggravate damages

All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) – an umbrella group of various Muslim organisations – has also asked the Prime Minister to direct officials to attend to the mosque as it was not only a national heritage but an internationally acclaimed place of worship, often visited by foreign dignitaries.

Naveed Hamid, the President of AIMMM said the minarets, domes, parts of the ceiling are falling apart, and rainwater speeds in domes are expediting the quantum of damage to the structure.

Fearing that any further delay will aggravate the damages, he said the magnificent building needs immediate renovation.

He said since a large number of people, including foreign tourists, visit the mosque every day, there is a lurking danger of any part falling on people, causing fatalities.

According to the ASI, the mosque does not figure in their list of protected monuments.

Manu Sharma, spokesman of the ASI said: "The Jama Masjid is not a protected monument under ASI, and the restoration or any work is not usually done by us. We do work only in special cases when we receive requests from them on Government's directions."

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Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mehfooz Mohammad, an official of the Delhi Waqf Board, said that they have now ordered a technical survey of the building and will start work, once it is completed.

He, however, said that the Waqf Board is taking the conservation work for the first time.

​​​Divay Gupta, the principal director of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) said his organisation has offered technical assistance to the mosque management to pursue scientific restoration.

"If they agree, we will provide technical assistance to carry out the restoration work. It is important heritage and we are ready to give our expertise," said Gupta.

Founded in 1984, INTACH, a non-profit charitable organisation, is engaged in the conservation and protection of India's natural and cultural heritage.

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