THATTA: Khateeb of the 17th century Shah Jahan mosque, members of civil society and history lovers have lashed out at officials of the Sindh tourism and culture department for removing carved stones and tablets inscribed with Quranic verses from the historical structure and demanded an inquiry into the brazen theft of history.
The khateeb, Mufti Abdul Bari Siddiqui, said in a recent sermon the congregation at the mosque that the officials who acted under instructions of adviser to the chief minister Sharmila Farooqi had the stones removed through contractors on the pretext of repair and rehabilitation but later affixed them in the gate of the National Museum in Karachi.
The khateeb, who wields considerable influence with mosque-goers, said that the removal of any relic or stone from a mosque was strictly prohibited and against the teachings of religion.
The mosque built by Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in 1647 has been on a tentative Unesco world heritage list since 1993.
The chairman of Sindh Culture Forum, Sadiq Lakho; culture activists Allah Juriyo Burfat, Sattar Behrani, Muhammad Khan Tunio, Wazir Zour and Irfan Samoo said that the removal and transportation of the mosque’s stones to Karachi was an act of tampering with history and people of Thatta would never tolerate it.
They said that instead of taking steps to buttress the crumbling structure of the historic mosque which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to Thatta the authorities concerned were removing the very structure, brick by brick.
This correspondent made many attempts to contact the director general of the Sindh tourism and culture department, Manzoor Kanasro, to seek his version, but he did not respond to any calls.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2016