All four accused were booked under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which punishes “provoking with intent to cause riots.” They were spotted offering namaz at the Shahi mosque at about 7 PM on Wednesday.
Vikas Kumar, Superintendent of Police (City), said,
“Four tourists were arrested for offering namaz at the mosque in Taj Mahal premises on Wednesday. Three of them are from Hyderabad and one is from Azamgarh. They have been booked under the section of 153 of IPC. They have been presented in the court.”
No Notice Prohibiting Namaz In Shahi Mosque: Official
Ibrahim Zaidi, the president of the Intezamia Committee at Taj Mahal, said that four men from Hyderabad were praying at the mosque when they were accosted by the authorities and were handed over to the police.
He said, “Namaz has been offered at the mosque of the Taj Mahal regularly. But recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said that namaz at the mosque inside Taj Mahal has been prohibited as per Supreme Court, except on Fridays. But that is completely false. We have, time and again, requested the SP and ASI to give us in writing that namaz is prohibited and put up a notice board of the same. They have not done that.”
“Since the accused are tourists and were unaware of what is allowed and what is not allowed here. If there are clear instructions on the timings, then people will abide by the rules,” he added.
He said that prohibiting namaz at the mosque is unfair. “Neither do they give us clear instructions that namaz is not allowed but then they will stop us from offering namaz as well.”
'Tourists Not Aware of the Prohibition': Tourist Guide
Vinay Kumar Dixit, a resident of Lucknow, who was the tourists’ guide said that there are no notices on display which prohibits daily namaz.
He said, “As we were heading towards the mosque, we saw that there were a couple more people offering namaz so the tourists joined in the prayers too. But the tourists had come to visit Taj Mahal and did not know of the rules.”
Dixit added, “They were escorted by the Taj Mahal security and were locked up for more than two hours and they are still not allowed to go and refuse to give more details.”
(With inputs from Manvendra Malhotra.)