After India’s controversial Ayodhya temple opening, Hindu-Muslim divide grows with demolition of New Delhi mosque
For five days, Sameer Tabreez, 23, has driven daily from New Delhi’s Uttam Nagar area to South Delhi’s Mehrauli, hoping to see if Delhi police have removed the barricades around the 600-year-old Akhoondji mosque that was demolished by authorities last month.
Tabreez hopes to ensure the preservation of his mother’s grave that is located near the mosque, and to determine whether her final resting place has remained intact or suffered damage amid the demolition.
He spends time with his children at a nearby Muslim religious school while waiting for an opportunity to inspect his mother’s grave.
The mosque and the Bahrul Uloom religious school it housed were bulldozed on January 30 and a graveyard within the mosque’s complex was also destroyed. The demolition of the 13th-century mosque by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), a group responsible for developing commercial land in Delhi, has since sparked outrage among the Muslim community.
The area is now heavily guarded by the Delhi police, preventing locals and media from accessing the site.
The DDA said the mosque was encroaching on Sanjay Van, a forest reservation just outside Mehrauli, making it an “illegal structure”.
On the morning of January 30, police and DDA officials showed up at the mosque with bulldozers, prompting its priest Zakir Hussain, 45, to ask to see the demolition order, but “they kept ignoring it and dragged me [away]”.
Hussain’s phone was confiscated by the police, and he and school children were prohibited from leaving the site until both structures were demolished. A graveyard near the mosque was also destroyed.
“I felt helpless and wanted to end my life when I saw a bulldozer demolishing the masjid,” he said.
Inauguration of India’s Ayodhya temple tipped