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Taj Mahal

Muslims lay claim to Taj Mahal

A Muslim trust in Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, has claimed ownership of the monument

Agra. The Sunni Central Waqf Board in Uttar Pradesh State, has filed a case in the Allahabad High Court and based its claim on the grounds that all graveyards belonging to the community fall under its jurisdiction.

However, the monument has been under the control of the central government-run Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since before India gained independence and it is also a World Heritage Site. Doraiswamy Dayalan, superintending archaeologist of the ASI in Agra, said that until the Waqf Board provided documentary evidence the claim could not be treated seriously.

The claim, made under provision 36 of the Waqf Act 1995, was backed by UP Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammed Azam Khan who said that according to Muslim law, the Taj was a grave and as such is the property of the Waqf Board. The Board’s chairman, Mohammed Hafiz Usman said that the claims were supported by the Emperor Shah Jahan’s will which is in the British Library. The Board has been in financial difficulties recently, and is demanding 7% of the $3.5 million a year ticket revenues from the Taj as well as a say in how the rest of the funds are used.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 158 May 2005