After many complaints of encroachment around one of the most significant structure from Tughlaq era- the Begumpur Masjid, along with Mughal-era Sarai Shahji monuments, the Ministry of Culture has finally sent 40 removal orders in response to the complaints from the ASI.The decision came after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sent 93 complaints to the ministry confirming the unauthorised construction near both the monuments. In an earlier report, DNA had highlighted the deplorable condition and encroachments around the mosque.In a written letter to Rajya Sabha, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation, confirmed that forty removal orders under Rule 38 (1) to the concerned persons/offenders and 24 demolition order under Rule 38(2) of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959, to the concerned Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) which were issued in response to the 93 complaints from ASI. As per Sections 20A and 20B of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 (amended therein 2010), prohibited (100 metres from protected area) and regulated area (200 metres beyond prohibited area) have been defined- Only repair or renovation of existing structures are allowed in prohibited area, construction or reconstruction or repair or renovation is permitted in regulated areas.Begumpur Masjid is also known as the ‘Jama Masjid’ of Tughlaq era in Delhi, built along with a few other structures in Mohammed bin Tughlaq’s new city called”Jahanpanah’, which was built between 1326 and 1327 A. The mosque is said to be built on an Iranian design by the then famous architect- Zahir al-din al-Jayush.It stands amid a village of the same name and inside its premises, it has a huge open courtyard, a chamber for women to worship and three different gates.The mosque area has been encroached by villagers from Haryana. A local proudly tells that his ancestors lived inside the mosque when hundreds of them came here due to the atrocities committed by the Nawab of Jhajjar after which the entire village moved to Delhi. In 1921, a portion of the mosque roof collapsed after which the ASI cleared it from the encroachers. These people then created shanties around it, but they confirm that during their stay they had established a proper village inside the premises. These families still live in Begumpur village.All these years, the mosque has been in a dilapidated condition and despite several attempts from heritage activists and historians, there has been no improvement.
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