A new ongoing construction outside the southern wall of the 400-year-old Mecca Masjid has again brought focus to the state of heritage preservation in Hyderabad. “It is illegal. We are planning to file a criminal complaint against the builders. Though it belongs to the Mecca Masjid, the Archaeological Survey of India and Telangana Heritage should take action. The work has however stopped,” said Mohammed Saleem, Chairman of Telangana State Wakf Board.
While Wakf officials say the work has been stopped, residents of the area say the work is going on in the night. Incidentally, it is the intersection of jurisdiction that is hobbling action against the construction work. While the Mecca Masjid is a heritage site under the care of Department of Heritage Telangana, it is a listed Wakf property identified as TSHY2216. Sprawled over 73696 square yards or about 15.2 acres, the masjid is within the radius of protection of the Charminar under the custody of ASI.
“The construction is on a private land and we have asked them to stop work,” said a staffer at the masjid. Recently, a photograph showing the construction near the masjid’s parapet triggered ire of activists. “Though it might be outside the masjid it is still going to spoil the view of the heritage site. It should be stopped so that other shop owners around the masjid also stop construction,” said Anuradha Reddy of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.
The RC slab and brick work for a second storey by a cloth store appears as if it is abutting the masjid wall, from inside, it is a different story. The construction is beyond the wall and behind the Khankha and there is a 23-metre space between the masjid and the outer wall.
A few days ago, a restaurant owner who sneaked in his private vehicle into the masjid through the southern entrance and shot a viral video had to face music. “We arrested two of them and they had to spend time in the prison. Their restaurant has been shut down,” said a police official. A police official has now been posted at the southern entrance.