Four tourists were arrested on Wednesday for offering namaz at the mosque located inside the Taj Mahal complex in Agra, The Times of India reported, citing the police. They were released on bail on Thursday after being produced in court.
Devotees are allowed to offer namaz on the premises only on Fridays, according to the Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, an official of the Archaeological Survey of India told The Times of India.
Central Industrial Security Force personnel on duty at the monument saw six men offering prayers inside the mosque on Wednesday evening, Agra Superintendent of Police Vikas Kumar said. While four of them were detained, two others escaped.
Three of them were from Telangana, and one was from Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh city. They were booked under Section 153 (provocation with intent to cause riots) of the Indian Penal Code, the police said.
Sami Aghai, the chairman of the Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad, told India Today on Thursday that the tourists should have been let off with a written apology as they were not aware of the Archaeological Survey of India rule about prayers only being allowed on Fridays.
Meanwhile, the Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist for Agra Raj Kumar Patel cited a Supreme Court order for taking action against the accused persons, the Hindustan Times reported.
“No new practice can be started at the monument like Taj Mahal and even Supreme Court has endorsed the view that only Friday namaz is permitted at Taj Mahal,” Patel said.
The Taj Mahal Masjid Intezamia Committee asked the Archaeological Survey of India to provide it with a copy of the Supreme Court order.
“No such copy has been provided to us, nor there is any mention of it at the mosque in Taj Mahal or on the notice board,” said the committee’s chairman Syed Ibrahim Zaidi.