Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials demolished a 600-year-old Masjid Akhonji, in the Mehrauli area of South Delhi district in the early hours of Tuesday.
The mosque was demolished and the debris was removed before any worshiper could reach the spot for the pre-dawn (Fajr) prayers.
The masjid imam, Imam Zakir Hussain, who reached the site a little later, said, “The DDA officials did not allow me to enter the masjid. The officials forcefully took away my phone so that I could not contact anyone when the demolition was happening.”
Hussain said, the demolition operation of Masjid Akhonji, which included Madrasa Bahrul Uloom and the graves of revered figures, was surreptitiously carried out before sunrise without any prior notice and the rubble was meticulously removed to conceal the demolition from the public eye.
His phone was snatched allegedly to prevent him from contacting others and to avoid any sort of documentation of the demolition. He further stated that officials denied access to copies of the Holy Qur’an and vandalized the belongings of 22 students enrolled in the madrassa too.
Locals claim the mosque was built during Razia Sultana’s reign making the structure nearly 600-700 years old. DDA officials reasoned that the structure was in Sanjay Van, a reserved forest part of the Southern Ridge, and demolished the “illegal encroachment”, while deploying CISF personnel along the premises saying, “removal of illegal structures, religious in nature, was approved by the Religious Committee.”
Upon hearing the news, the Muslim community on Wednesday condemned the act as a blatant violation of law by the DDA, claiming that the Delhi High Court had ordered the demarcation of the religious site. The DDA, however, took the law into their own hands, and demolished the mosque, they said.
“The Delhi High Court, in 2012, had issued a demarcation order. The district administration as well as the police have flouted the court’s order. As per our knowledge, there was no order of demolition of the mosque,” an elder among them reportedly said.
“When we questioned about the illegal demolition, the DDA just said ‘We have order from the top’,” he added.