LAHORE, Aug 30: In complete violation of the Punjab Special Premises and Preservation Ordinance 1985, the area people in connivance with some Auqaf officials have destroyed the evidence of antiquity by building a structure on the 17th century historic mosque of Mohammad Saleh Kamboh in Mochi Gate.

They (people) had started the construction last year but the Punjab Archaeology Department did not take any action to stop them from doing so. Archaeologists also showed serious concern over the illegal construction but to no avail.

Instead of stopping them from building the structure, the government had formed a committee comprising the Lahore district nazim, Punjab archaeology department director general, auqaf's zonal administrator and the director project and the chairman, religious purpose committee, to look into the matter.

Besides removing the new structure after resolving the matter amicably, the committee also had to make the people realise the historic significance of the mosque. But not a single meeting of the committee has been convened so far since its formation last year showing how "keen" the authorities concerned are to save historic monuments from vandalism.

On the other hand, one Iqbal of Mochi Gate told Dawn that the residents and shopkeepers had pooled money for the construction of a new structure of the mosque. He said the people wanted extra space for more people to offer prayers. However, he claimed that the people had no idea regarding the destruction of the antiquity evidence.

Known as the picturesque mosque, it was built by Muhammad Saleh Kamboh in 1659. The mosque is rich in enamelled poetry work of the best type. On the arches and the walls, passages from the Quran are inscribed besides the Persian verses of great literary merit.

During the reign of Shah Jahan, Kamboh was in charge of the royal office at Lahore. He was the author of the Amali Saleh, or Shah Jahan Nama. The work is written in excellent Persian style and is proof of the great literary attainments of the author and his skill as a writer of Persian poetry and prose.

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