Taj Mahal controversy: Shia and Sunni Muslims fight over the world famous monument

Uttar Pradesh seems to be the latest venue for the theatre of the absurd. Police sent to trace missing cattle of a minister, incidents of violence against women being dismissed as routine affairs and the controversy of Love Jihad. However, the fracas over the rightful claimants of Taj Mahal seems to be the latest high point.

On November 13, Uttar Pradesh Muslim Waqf minister Azam Khan demanded that Taj Mahal should be declared a property of State Waqf Board. His demand was later backed by the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband.

Endorsing Khan’s demand that the Taj Mahal, which houses mausoleums of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his queen Mumtaz, Darul Uloom clerics also demanded common Muslims be allowed to offer prayers at the mosque inside Taj Mahal five times a day.

Khan’s demand has energised the Shia’s to stake claim to the world famous monument to love. Pointing out that Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory Taj Mahal was built, was a Shia, the minority sect of Muslims has demanded that the Taj be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board. “The Taj Mahal should be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board as Mumtaz Mahal, whose real name was Arjumand Bano, was a Shia,” said Syed Faiyyaz Haidar, president of Lucknow based Imam-e-Raza committee.

Wait, the absurdity doesn’t end here. Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad, supporting the claim by Imam-e-Raza committee said, “Taj Mahal houses two graves, one of a Sunni — Mughal emperor Shah Jahan — and one of a Shia — Mumtaz — so that way, at least half of it should be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board.”

Khan’s claim has been contested by, believe it or not, Uttar Pradesh BJP president Laxmi Kant Bajpai. The saffron party leader dismissing Khan’s claim, said, “We all know that the land on which Taj is standing belongs to 17th century king Jai Singh”.

Even more absurd is the reasoning behind Azam Khan’s demand for Taj Mahal being brought under the UP Waqf Board. Accusing the Centre of “usurping” all the revenue generated from the tourists visiting the Agra monument, Khan stated that the proceeds “was sufficient to run two universities” in the state.

This calls for a Robert Vadra-esque ‘Are you serious? Are you serious? Are you serious? Are you serious?’. The state where crores are being wasted in celebrating birthdays of political leaders and Saifai festivals without any qualms, public interest only comes to the fore when vested interests need to be achieved.

Taj Mahal is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).